Many people think they need to feel “inspired” to write, but seasoned writers know that not only is that untrue, “getting inspired” isn’t even a key ingredient. Sometimes the best work you can do is done not out of inspiration, but out of sheer panic, under perfect duress, when you have a deadline. There are Continue Reading
The truth is, I know that a lot of my students are more talented than I am. Some of them have surpassed me in both reputation and resume; their work drips with lyrical brilliance, and their insights into life pack a more powerful punch. My ego would love for me to believe otherwise, to be teaching because, clearly, writers everywhere would be wise to bow down to the sheer power of my mighty metaphors! However, while being the best writer in the room might feel good, sometimes being the worst writer in the room also makes you the luckiest. A smart, evolving artist brings with him or her the humility to arrive with ample room to grow.
Finishing poems is hard. You can always do more to make sure that metaphor is complete, the rhythm is just right, and the ending line packs a punch. Some poets leave their work moldering at the bottom of a drawer, unfinished for years. Some people even, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors, procrastinate their book Continue Reading
To hear this post read by author Tresha Faye Haefner, click the triangle below or go to our YouTube channel Sometimes my students lament that they are tired of writing about the same subject over and over – their recently dead mother, their sorrow over a divorce, or something as simple as their obsession with Continue Reading
I was in a poetry workshop where a talented poet wrote, “I had to burn my brother’s body in order to stay alive during the night.”
I responded, “Oh, how sweet; the brother sacrifices himself in order to keep the sister alive.”
My neighbor said, “No, that’s not it. She’s empowered. She killed her brother in order to take care of herself.”
The instructor said, “You can shorten this to ‘I burned my brother and lived off the warmth.’”
The writer said, “I have no brother. Everything in this poem is a lie.”
When I tell non-artists that I am a professional poet, this is the gist of the conversation that typically follows: “Really?” “Yes.” “You’re kidding.” “No.” “You can make a living doing that?” “Yes.” (long pause) “Huh.” They mostly can’t think of much to say after that. I suspect they think I’m lying. A few of Continue Reading
Something that is essential can’t be taught; it can only be given, or earned, or formulated in a manner too mysterious . . . still, (poets) require a lively acquaintance with the history of their particular field and with past as well as current theories and techniques. Whatever can’t be taught, and there is a Continue Reading
There is a flotilla of actual research that suggests kids already think like poets. They notice imagery, think in metaphors, and act as though everything is alive and has human consciousness, from their real pet frog to their stuffed giraffe. All I had to do was introduce a concept like “personification” or “metaphor” and let them dash away with their pens and paper into the happy land of kid speak. They would come back with Pulitzer Prize winning lines like, “Earth, do you enjoy spinning?” or, “I heard a caterpillar’s heart breaking when it turned into a butterfly.” When writing poems about science, one little girl wrote, “Pluto is not a planet. It is a tear the first astronaut cried when he saw our world spinning alone in space.”
The thing about changing your writing, unlike changing your life, is that it is much easier. You don’t have to max out your credit cards on a trip to Italy, find a guru in India, or go to Bali to fall head over heels. (#EatPrayLove.) All you have to do is change your words. Words are the building blocks of poems, and hence, the building blocks of your ideas; your style; your substance. If you change the words, and the way you use them, you change everything – and that means both inside and out.
To hear this blog read aloud by Tresha Haefner, click the triangle below or go to this YouTube Video Nothing tells you how much you need to write like being confronted by a new place. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Alaska, I made the mistake of leaving my notebook at Continue Reading