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Charles Simic Muses on Why He Still Writes Poetry…And So Should You

While browsing through my Twitter feed I came across a link to an inspiring piece by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Charles Simic entitled “Why I Still Write Poetry“.

Girl writing

The title alone brought to mind my own thoughts giving up on this childhood fascination of mine.  I mean, who really writes and reads poetry these days.  I mean I’m 41 years old, have a full time job with decent pay, have a family, and bills to pay.

Surely, I’m beyond poetry.

But the call of the muse still beckons me to listen.  Though I try to ignore her.  She gently whispers.  Encouraging me to return.  To write again.

So, this piece by the famous Charles Simic is quite timely.  Mr. Simic, now in his seventies, still enjoys writing.  Even though family members and friends are shocked that he still does.

Why do you write?  Surely it isn’t for the pay.  Or the fame.  Or for the grand accolades from friends and family.

Again.  Why do you write?

There are times that I write simply because I must.  You’ve felt it.  The words bubble up in you like a covered pot pushing on the lid.  Spilling over into your thoughts and trickling off of your tongue.

There are other times I write for the challenge of it all.  Annually, I subject myself to the April “poetry month” challenges — looking to stretch my creative wit.  And like clockwork I putter out about a third of the way through (just browse back a few posts in this blog to see my “30 in 30″ effort.

But we still continue to write.

In the article, Charles Simic states:

The mystery to me is that I continued writing poetry long after there was any need for that. My early poems were embarrassingly bad, and the ones that came right after, not much better. I have known in my life a number of young poets with immense talent who gave up poetry even after being told they were geniuses. No one ever made that mistake with me, and yet I kept going.

What struck me most about this article is that though he is an acclaimed poet, he never was really told that he was.  And yet he kept going.

Poet, do not give up on your art.  Write because, and only because, you love it.  No, better yet, write because you like to.  You like the act of putting together a series of words, like Mr. Simic says, like a chess match.  Each word placement a challenge.

Write because you long to share that which is on your mind, in your soul, in your heart.

Write for us.

Image courtesy ZaCky on Flickr

How to Get Your Poetry Published

The most frustrating and demoralizing thing that a poet can experience is that of being rejected by a poetry publisher.  No matter what the scale of that publisher.  It can be a world renowned literary magazine, your church newsletter, or your favorite poetry blog.

Rejection sucks.

Being the fragile-minded character that I am, I decided to take the easy route:  I don’t even try.

I’m content with that, too.  Why should I beg someone to publish my work?  I like my poetry.  Some of my fellow poets like my poems.  Many of you like my poems!

Maybe it’s just the fear of rejection and not being willing to grow from criticism.  But then again you rarely, if ever, receive a “here’s how your poem could be improved” response to your rejected poem.

So, anyway, back to the topic of this post.

If I’m saying not to worry about even trying to publish your poetry, then why am I posting about how to do it?

Because I believe that we poets and writers need to take the simple route.  Go back to the basics in its modern form.  Take the easier route of self-publishing.

Do you remember the days of chapbooks?  They’re still popular in some circles.  Chapbooks are the precursor to modern day self-publishing.  People printed out poems on paper, bound them with staples or glue, and sold them and handed them out to friends.

We need to translate that to the modern age of blogs, Kindles and Nooks, and tablet computers.

Start a blog to showcase your poetry.  Share it with your friends and on your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Give it away.

I hate to break the news to you, but you will not become rich off of selling your poetry.  However, if you build up your blog, and gain a following people will buy copies of your works if you offer it to them.  They trust you and want to support you.  Take your best pieces from your site, put them together into an eBook, link to it in your blog’s sidebar, and announce it to the world (I’ll get into the specifics on how to do this in a later post).

The point is that the way you get your poetry published is to publish it yourself.  Don’t spend all your time and creative energy tracking down publishers and literary agents.  We need you to write.  We need to read your works now.

Get writing.  Get publishing.  We’re waiting.

My Muse, My Muse

#30in30 Poem 11 of 30 My Muse, My Muse Your arms wrap around me As you whisper inspiration Into my ear. Into my soul. Flesh tempted Heart racing Mind focused I write your thoughts Your desires Your dreams rush through me Your caress moving me Inspiring my words My hands flow across keys Each letter a […]

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Death Creeps In

#30in30 Poem 10 of 30 Death Creeps In I hate the permanence of death Its ever present presence Its stench distant, but ever closer Creeping in like a fog Like the faint light Hours before sunrise Time is being cheated Minutes and seconds and years Slip through my fingers Like blood from a slit wrist I […]

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Victory’s Seed

#30in30 Poem 9 of 30 Victory’s Seed A bad day’s triumph Can quell the soul’s rage And plant victory’s seed To bloom another day  

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Love and Lust

#30in30 Poem 8 of 30 Love and Lust Once chance is all that I need Far from eyes that know and seek Gluttonous lust beckons me Fulfilled today the master’s feast Conscience be silent and still Peace has triumphed over will Rest now my soul take thy fill Breathe in the love lust did kill

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Good Morning

#30in30 Poem 7 of 30 Good Morning And I know this doesn’t mean That it’s over. It’s just one day in a Multitude of years One moment in a life Between us both we’ve seen the tragedy Raggedy hearts beat in unison but Are worn down from years of neglect The light still shines for you […]

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And We Were Hit On the Left Side

#30in30 Poem 6 of 30 And We Were Hit On the Left Side My head fractures the glass at impact Screeching tires was all I heard before Shards of glass fill the car like The glitter in a snow globe settling Another impact from the right Starts us bending towards it Our arm reaching out to […]

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Sticks and Stones

#30in30 Poem 5 of 30 Sticks and Stones One simple word It fell from your lips Like a sack of flour From the cupboard To the floor The aftermath was the same Time froze as it teetered On the edge of your lips Tumbling to the ground Finalizing its deed With a deep heavy thud

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So Unkind

#30in30 Poem 4 of 30 So Unkind You seem to me to be quite unkind The kind of person without the time The time without a moment to spare To spare a moment with those who care I care about your lack of smiles The smiles would give me hope a while A while ago you […]

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