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Pondering Poetry

What are your thoughts on poetry?


This was a question I posted on my family and friends Facebook page. (I also have an author page.) I asked followers if they have a favorite poem and if they purchase books on poetry.


I was curious because my new book which is in publication as we speak contains 72 poems and photos reflected by nature at public parks. Although I’ve written 11 books, a book devoted to poetry is a new space for me, and I’m contemplating as to how to proceed. Poetry books are traditionally tough to market.


The responses to my Facebook question were insightful and fun for me to learn. Sally said she owned all of Mary Oliver’s books, (as do I), and Trudy owns all of Ann Weems’. Carol said she is a traditionalist and enjoys Tennyson, Dickenson, E.E. Cummings, Poe, and Whitman.


Sue says that Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is special and likes poets Hugh Prather and the title, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. As to her favorite style of poetry, Sue added that she loves haikus because they are simple and powerful.


Steve enjoys Shel Silverstein’s books of poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, which are books I enjoyed reading to my children. He also likes “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.


Cheryl said that one of her favorite poems is “The Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann. She said she doesn’t buy poetry but enjoys reading it.


Kurt shared his favorite poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas. The poem begins, “Old age should burn and rave at close of day . . . “


Becky and Beth admitted that they do not like poetry. However, I do wonder when people claim this, because most enjoy music and/or Scripture, which are both very poetic. Perhaps, they simply don’t like certain poetic styles.


And at the heart of writing and other creative styles are the words of Charles Bukowski in the poem, “so you want to be a writer?” Thank you, Joey for sharing this great find. I certainly identify with this piece.

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so you want to be a writer?

Charles Bukowski – 1920-1994

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it. if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it. if you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it. if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it. if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it. if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. if it never does roar out of you, do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers, don’t be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don’t be dull and boring and pretentious, don’t be consumed with self- love. the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind. don’t add to that. don’t do it. unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it.

when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

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