Category: Debut Poets

“I remind myself that language isn’t my job. W…

“I remind myself that language isn’t my job. Writing a poem isn’t my job. My job is the human job of waiting and listening, and language is just what poets use—like wind chimes—to catch the sound of the larger, more essential thing. Wind chimes themselves are not the point. The point is the wind.”

Jenny George, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the rest at pw.org!

“Be uncomfortable. Get lost intentionally. Dar…

“Be uncomfortable. Get lost intentionally. Dare to take on ambitious, large poetry projects that terrify you.“

Diana Khoi Nguyen, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the rest at pw.org!

“I’ve decided I don’t always have to be writin…

“I’ve decided I don’t always have to be writing. I let myself live and try to let go of the pressure to always physically write. In some ways it feels like I’m collecting feeling. That’s not to say I don’t sit down and try regularly to get something on the page, but it might not look like a poem. It might look like writing in a journal about what I’ve seen and heard that day. That process helps me feel more willing to listen to what’s possible rather than predetermine what I think I should be on the page.”

Analicia Sotelo, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the extended version on pw.org!

“I think that if you bang your head against th…

“I think that if you bang your head against the wall trying to create, you’re going to resent the process of creation. Usually when you reach an impasse it’s a signal to move on to another thing. Maybe you haven’t slept in a while. Maybe you need some time to ponder, to just stare at the wall. Maybe you need to live, truly be alive for a little and not near a computer. Maybe you need to read, see, watch—to refill your well.”

—Fatimah Asghar, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the extended version on pw.org!

“I wrote the poems…because I had not fo…

“I wrote the poems…because I had not found them elsewhere. I needed text to represent and then transform the way that my body and my many iterations of self move through my life and its various environments.”

—Justin Phillip Reed, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019); read the extended version online at pw.org!

“I knew [Ross Gay] had been a judge for severa…

“I knew [Ross Gay] had been a judge for several first-book contests, so I asked him what he looked for in a debut collection. He paused for a moment and said, ‘Broken shit.’ He elaborated that he was interested in a collection that wasn’t highly curated but rather took great risks; even if some of the poems failed, he loved seeing new poets make magnificent attempts….this notion that I didn’t have to have everything figured out provided a great sense of relief. It gave me permission to be audacious and messy with my work, to make mistakes….”

Tiana Clark, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)

“I used to try to write every day, and I would…

“I used to try to write every day, and I would get upset when I failed to keep this goal. And I often failed. I’ve learned that even though writing every day works for some people, it doesn’t work for me. So when I reach an impasse, I go for a walk. I eat ice cream. I call someone I love. I trust myself to come back to the work and try again.”

José Olivarez, in “Wilder Forms: Our Fourteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2019)

Inspiration: My daughter, motherhood, and watc…

Inspiration: My daughter, motherhood, and watching the younger generation. The land—the artfulness of the land, its endurance and change, its nonverbal lessons. And people—unexpected encounters as well as long-term relationships. I am always profoundly struck by the surprising things people say and do. People are poems, in themselves.

“Keep writing. Keep grinding. Send to presses …

“Keep writing. Keep grinding. Send to presses that are publishing work you give a shit about. Don’t water down your voice because you think that’s what it takes to get a book. My homie Chiwan Choi asks us, “Why sell out in a zero-dollar industry?” It might sound corny, but be your whole self on the page. There isn’t much out there more terrifying to the powers that be than a bunch of people being their whole damn selves on the page.”

Joseph Rios, in “The Whole Self: Our Thirteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the Jan/Feb issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2018), read the complete profile at pw.org!

“When you are writing, you are not involved in…

“When you are writing, you are not involved in career making; you are being a poet. You are also a poet when you are teaching or walking around or doing your day job or looking at art. Don’t partition off your daily life from your writing life.”

Emily Skillings, in “The Whole Self: Our Thirteenth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the Jan/Feb issue of Poets & Writers Magazine (2018), read the complete profile at pw.org!