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 gentle touch
Just the right pressure down
Just the right pressure up

We are one in thought
One in purpose
One in vision
One in body


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 struggle to seal the wound
To save my life
To have more time
For me. For them.


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


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

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
Words pour from the soul for you
To express this truth for you

And it feels good to let you know
To show you the horizon ahead of us
The sun breaking the crest for us

Take note my love. Of the light.
For now it gets brighter. Each day
A little higher in the sky

Last night’s tears become
Today’s morning dew
Yesterday’s fears become
Hope born anew

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 it
As if wanting to touch it
To understand why

The glitter now shines deep red
Floating before my eyes
Flipping and turning and sparkling

Out of focus
The sky is replaced with grey
Then sky then grey then blue
Then green lush grass beneath me

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

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 said you cared
Your care for me is no longer there

There comes a time when all must end
That which ends must begin again
Again I hope for one more try
I try again but you are so unkind