“It is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it …”

John Keats had a few axioms about poetry, I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity — it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance — Its touches of Beauty should never be halfway thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him — shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the luxury of twilight — but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it — and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all. 

The hard work …

When inspiration comes I listen to the narrator’s crazy heart and let it flow as unchecked as the early morning mist sweeping across a sun-warmed lake, without judgment or rules.  OK, I don’t want to wax philosophic  but when I do manage to wrestle all those noisy, colourful, emotion-charged thoughts onto paper, that’s when the hard work begins – perfecting that initial, messy flash of inspiration.

Guidance from Ted Kooser

“Most of a poet’s education is self-education, and most of what you’ll learn you’ll teach yourself through reading and writing poems.  A good teacher may be able to nudge you along … but eventually you’ll get tired of doing literary sit-ups and knee bends and grow impatient to write the poems you really want to write, poems you feel inside you, poems like those you find in the books of writers you admire.” (Ted Kooser, Poetry Home Repair Manual).

Posts connected to poetry