a young writer

October 28, 2019

Writing is such a revolutionary act. If you follow history you will see how writers, poets, and teachers are ones who are usually imprisoned for their words. For me to force my way into an industry that is predominately white is an act of faith and determination. I believe that there are so many voices out there waiting to be heard. If I could speak to young writers, I would say that persistence is key. I may not be the strongest writer, but I am a person who refuses to quit. I believe my voice is needed, and as a young writer, you need to believe that too, despite what the industry or others say.

Lilliam Rivera
Interview with Sandra Odell, March 2018

read poetry

October 25, 2019

I have three pieces of advice for emerging poets. The first is to read poetry really widely, without preconceptions or judgments. The second is to revise more, and harder, than you ever imagined you could possibly revise. The third, perhaps the most important, is to read your poems aloud as you write.

Annie Finch
Interview with Frances Donovan
Gender Focus 27th March 2016

Like all writers, I hate receiving rejections of my work. I don’t think it ever gets any easier, but as rejections are an integral part of being a traditionally published writer you just have to take it on the chin and carry on.

J.S.Watts
Interview with Peeking Cat Poetry

Meaning

September 12, 2019

Religion, mysticism and magic all spring from the same basic ‘feeling’ about the universe: a sudden feeling of meaning, which human beings sometimes ‘pick up’ accidentally, as your radio might pick up some unknown station. Poets feel that we are cut off from meaning by a thick, lead wall, and that sometimes for no reason we can understand the wall seems to vanish and we are suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of the infinite interestingness of things.

Colin Wilson
The Occult

adored

August 22, 2019

She was born to be the adored of poets

Virginia Woolf
The Waves

translators and poets

August 13, 2019

Perhaps this is what we are really up against, as translators and as poets: a distorted scale of values, a denigration of feeling and imagination, a denial of the inner world.

Gounil Brown
Introduction to Edith Södergran’s Poems

criticism

July 6, 2019

In regard to literary review and literary criticism, Hans Magnus Enzensberger once noted, ‘it’s difficult to get excited about something that’s simply wasting away,’ before continuing, ‘Literature has again become what it was from the beginning: a minority affair.’ Enzensberger’s polemic addresses a long history of the institutionalisation of literature and its criticism via both the academy and the mass media, noting the situation, ‘Today for every poet there must be approximately sixty-six academics employed in researching and interpreting him.’ He perceives the blunting of interpretative acuity as critics and then reviewers cater to the majority’s appetite for an easily digestible and then excretable moveable feast, and then lauds the demise of said criticism whereby literature has been returned to its stalwart, proper and apparently small audience. Enzensberger’s polemic concludes with the understanding that the century or more of literature’s and literary criticism’s ascension in the mainstream is at an end and (circa 1986 when the essay was written) we might be the fortunate generation to see writers ‘wipe off the representative mask which they wore so long.’

Michael Brennan
Last words: Tranter and Rimbaud’s silence

Song

July 4, 2019

Bells on our eyelashes
and the death throes of words,
and I among fields of speech,
a knight on a horse made of dirt.
My lungs are my poetry, my eyes a book,
and I, under the skin of words,
on the beaming banks of foam,
a poet who sang and died
leaving this singed elegy
before the faces of poets,
for birds at the edge of sky.

Ali Ahmad Said Esber
translated by Khaled Mattawa
Elegy for the First Century

keepers of the unsayable

March 31, 2019

If poets are the keepers of the unsayable, then silence, not language, is a poet’s natural element, the realm where the unsayable lives. Poets fetishize silence as much as words; they are disturbed and comforted by the sounds that interrupt it. This is what John Keats means by Negative Capability, his notion of a poet’s basic qualification, the need for ‘being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.’ This a fancy way of describing ambivalence, also a basic qualification for a poet, the ability to passionately hold two opposing feelings at once. Poets need ambivalence in order to acknowledge the unsayable and speak nonetheless. The hidden subject of all poems is the silence that surrounds them, the things that can’t be, that will never be said; a real poem points to everything beyond it.

Craig Morgan Teicher
Ars Poetica: Origin Stories

Pretty Words

March 16, 2019

Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enameled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.

I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.

Elinor Wylie