Thursday, August 15, 2013

Etiquette For Poets

Image of the Day:  Markedly cooler morning air and the crickets shocked mute.

Holy cow:  we're in the middle of August.  I've been busy freaking out about my son who has been having a very good time in Boston at a day camp.  Typical.  Also, there have been three or four happily lost pigs routing in the muck on the path that I run on during the weekends.  I think there is some kind of connection there. 

What I am (and am going to be) reading:  The Crafty Poet, by Diane Lockward, is zooming through the mail.  You can read all about it right here and then buy it cause you are gonna want all those fabulous prompts and discussions about writing poetry. 

I'm also reading In The Dojo, by Dave Lowry, about the etiquette in the martial arts programs.  In particular, the chapter about being a student in martial arts is so relevant for poets, at least in my opinion.

For example, Lowry writes that sometimes when practicing with someone who is more senior than you, it's tempting to think too much.  Instead, the student should try and "simply learn" (178).  Just work on your craft.  I'm working right now on yet another iteration of my manuscript, trying to polish it up, and one of my poetry friends, the fabulous Ruth Foley, has generously agreed to switch manuscripts so we can get feedback on each other's work.  So I was able to put my head down and get that manuscript together to send to her.  I knew it needed work, but actually doing it can be daunting. 

Another thing Lowry says is that all students of martial arts "run into periods when they don't seem to be able to improve"  (179).  All of us poets have felt that, either from a discouraging rejection, not being able to write a poem when other poets are blogging about how they've written so many poems, or whatever.  I think we need to remember that there are those fallow periods and that we keep practicing and will eventually find a way to write a good poem again. 

So anyway, these things have been helpful for me to read and to remind myself to practice and keep polishing  my writing skills.  Maybe someone should write an etiquette book for poets--and naming it so would help place ourselves in healthier perspectives.  (And then we wouldn't have to worry about lists and such.)

One step outside the gate
and I too am a traveller
in the autumn evening

Yosa Buson
translated from the Japanese by W. S. Merwin and Takako Lento

Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson
Copper Canyon Press

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