Category: poem

Sometimes writing these poems was a reminder t…

Sometimes writing these poems was a reminder that I was still alive and sometimes I resented the reminder.

and I knew the wound was made for a way to sta…

and I knew the wound was made
for a way to stay alive.

“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!

“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 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)

John Skoyles, once said in a workshop—I think …

John Skoyles, once said in a workshop—I think he was repeating something he’d heard from another poet—that if a poem has the word ‘chocolate’ in it, it should also have the word ‘disconsolate.’ That is to say, a piece of writing should have internal resonances (which could occur at the level of the word or the phrase or the idea or even the implication) that work semantically like slant rhymes, parts that call back softly to other parts, that make a chime in your mind.

Sometimes inertia seeps in like the plague, my…

Sometimes inertia seeps in like the plague, my pen heavy with ink, the page blanker than it’s ever been. I know my conscious mind is responsible, and that I have to loosen up my associative memory, move it toward a dream state. For me, this process usually involves some combination of reading poetry and going on easy runs around Brooklyn. I especially love rereading Sharon Olds, Kevin Young, and Lisel Mueller, and then copying down my favorite lines in a notebook, feeling my pen firm along the page, my body grounding itself into their words. I like to take that energy with me on a run in Prospect Park, repeating certain sense impressions like a mantra, letting them recombine with my own momentary observations as I move through space.

‘Write what you are terrified to write.&…

‘Write what you are terrified to write.’ When I was first given that advice I struggled to write for almost a year because I wasn’t yet ready to write what I was afraid to write, and I didn’t want to waste my time writing anything else. These days, I consider that advice every time I begin a poem. I pay attention to what requires courage to say, and I do my best to try to say it.

The periodic pleasure of small happenings is u…

The periodic pleasure
of small happenings
is upon us—
behind the stalls
at the farmer’s market
snow glinting in heaps,
a cardinal its chest
puffed out, bloodshod
above the piles of awnings,
passion’s proclivities…

I am beginning to comprehend / the mystery / o…

I am beginning to comprehend / the mystery / of the gift of suffering.