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.

It’s National Poetry Month 2012!

National Poetry MonthYes, I’m blogging on the site again.  It has been such a long time that I’ve been away and such a long time since I’ve written a poem.  (More on this is a later post)

I do miss it and I do still love it.

That being said, April is National Poetry Month.  We’ve celebrated it on the site many times in the past, so when Beverly Rivera mentioned it over on her Google+ post and posted it on her website, it was just the prompt I needed to get posting again.

She is promoting the #30in30 campaign in which poets write one poem a day and share it via the social media hashtag #30in30.  You can then read all the poems in a variety of way:

I’ll be posting my poems here using the #30in30 tag and on my Twitter and my Google+ feeds.

Want to join in?  See the instructions here:  National Poetry Month 30 in 30

Happy Birthday Robert Frost!

Robert Frost BirthdayHappy Birthday to American poet Robert L. Frost.

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 and died January 29, 1963.

Some of Mr. Frost’s most famous poems are:

Nothing Gold Can Stay (my personal favorite)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Fire and Ice

The Road Not Taken (sometimes mistakenly referred to as “The Road Less Traveled”)

Mr. Frost’s poetry is among my favorites because of the depth he could put in the shortest of pieces.  You can think about them for quite a while and come up with different meanings for each piece.

Thank you, Mr. Frost, for your works.


How to Be Alone – Video Poem by Tanya Davis

As you know, I love a great poem joined together with a great video.

I recently came across this amazing piece by poet Tanya Davis on YouTube (with over 1.5 MILLION views as of this writing). Her poem pairs perfectly with the style and eye of film maker Andrea Dorfman.

It’s an instructional video that teaches us how to be comfortable in solitude. Not only that, but how to really go out of your way to really embrace it.

As as self-realized introvert, this video makes me all warm and fuzzy inside and pulls a gentle smile to the corners of my mouth. Tanya’s words really speak from a soul who has come to terms aloneness. Though it isn’t clear if she has struggled with it at some point or has always just embraced it.

What do you think?

Lunch Poem – Video

Here’s a nice poem put to video. I like how the video creator, Andrew Kamp, let the sounds bleed through to Tracy K. Smith’s poem so that both became part of the other. Some poetry videos tend to be words laid on top of video with no real interaction.

Well done.

The Most Effective Writing Prompt

PokeEarlier today a friend, and fellow poet, Thom Ingram posted a tweet on Twitter that said:

“You Can” for @WillBrown at

Rightfully intrigued, I followed the link and found a poem entitled “You Can” for Will Brown.

It was a short poem that I interpret to mean that you should always be ready to receive inspiration. Not only that, but to somehow capture the thought, the seed, and save it for later. For a time when you can be alone and plant that thought again in your mind.

But that was not the important part.

The greater realization came from the fact that Thom reached out to inspire a fellow poet.

As poets, in order to be effectively inspired, we must link arms with other poets. Friends that, whenever you have any contact with them, ask you if you are writing. Gordon Buss asked me this very question a couple of days ago in an email. I was inspired then as well.

But inspiration can only go so far. As Thom says in the last lines of the poem: “Your pen before ink runs dry. Sins to just think.”

Image Credit

The Only Thing You Can Change

You can’t change your entire life.

You can only change your next action.

You can’t change a relationship with a loved one.

You can only change your next interaction.

You can’t change your entire job.

You can only change your next task.

You can’t change your body composition.

You can only change your next meal.

You can’t change your fitness level.

You can only start moving.

You can’t declutter your entire life.

You can only get choose to get rid of one thing, right now.

You can’t eliminate your entire debt.

You can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item.

You can’t change the past, or control the future.

You can only change what you’re doing right now.

You can’t change everything.

You can only change one, small thing.

And that’s all it takes.

Reprinted from mnmlist

Suitable Poetry – Fry and Laurie

A humorous sketch from the BBC comedy “A Bit of Fry and Laurie“, which I never heard of until Simon from Slam Idol interviewed Stephen Fry a few years ago about his book “The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
” (aff). I still need to purchase that. American fans may recognize Hugh Laurie from his role in the current television show “House“.


Opinion: The Kindle and the iPad – The Poet’s Perspective

Kindle v iPadMuch has been said about the coming of Apple’s iPad as the time-stamp for the impending death of Amazon’s Kindle. Point and counter-point have been given across the web, in print, and new and old media.

I, for one, I believe that the two can both peacefully coexist in the fast moving market of e-readers. In fact, I now own both devices and am equally pleased with both when it comes to the purpose that they serve. Read on.

Len Edgerly in his latest podcast episode of The Kindle Chronicles mentioned that he distinguished between the two users by the term “serious readers”; a term that just makes sense when it comes to discerning which device works best for each individual person.  Serious readers are people who like to read books for an extended period of time. They make time to separate themselves from the world by immersing themselves into the world that they are holding in their hands.

On the other side, the casual reader is perfectly content to read just a few pages at a time whenever the moment hits them. The things that bother serious readers about the iPad are not a factor for casual readers. Screen glare, the iPad’s weight, and eye-strain are things that will rarely affect someone who only picks up the iPad for short bursts of reading.

This is where the poetry consumer comes in.

People that read poetry typically don’t sit with one book of poetry for long periods of time. Our readings tend to come in bursts. Have you ever sat down and read dozens of poems in one sitting?

For me, the battle between the e-readers purely from the poetry reading perspective is not a battle at all. It is as simply a choice of which medium is available for me to use at the moment I decide to read. The choice could be paper, a magazine, a blog, my computer, my iPad, or my Kindle.

Currently, poetry publishers are deciding that for us. Most poetry is being published traditionally (magazines, journals, books, blogs, and web), but a few publishers are riding the technological wave with their poets. Electronic delivery, currently primarily by PDF, is giving great opportunities for some. However, the selection on both the iPad and Kindle seem limited. In some cases it is because the publisher isn’t getting the books into the digital marketplace and in others it is the technological constraints of the market itself that provides a hurdle the the individual author must first overcome.

Here’s what I foresee in the very near future for the digital market. Application developers will pair with poetry publishers, both publishing houses and individuals, to create applications that dismantle such hurdles. Look to digital providers such as and others to lead from the front.

So, in the end, which device is better for the poetry consumer. Either. It depends on what your other reading habits are. Serious readers will prefer the Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Casual readers will prefer the iPad or one of the other potential tablet computers coming down the stream.

I am concerned with the poet who is seeking a means of delivery. I hope you consider all avenues to share your works.