Become a Successful Poet in This Many Easy Steps
An olde-tyme classic from mid-yesteryear. Sandwiched in with some other things and delivered deadpan to room-wide approval December Something, 2011. Now appearing online for the first time. Wonderful!
Have an idea. It must be original. It mustn’t be too personal. It mustn’t be too impersonal. It must express universal themes. It mustn’t be too abstract.
Envision the finished product. Begin freewriting.
Be detailed and descriptive. Paint a vivid picture for the reader. Use as few words as possible. Show, don’t tell. Tell, if the story requires it. Don’t leave out punctuation; that’s confusing. Don’t use too much punctuation; that’s prose. Be unconventional. Don’t use participles. Don’t use adverbs. Don’t use articles. Rhyme is not in fashion right now. Form is not in fashion. Structure the poem carefully. Don’t use a metre; metre is archaic. Use a strong rhythm. Impose no limits whatsoever on the text. Convey meaning through contradictions. Don’t use irony.
Visualize your audience as you write. Don’t write for others. Find good first readers. Pay no attention to other people’s opinions. Accept criticism graciously. Trust your intuition.
Don’t imitate. Acknowledge your predecessors. Write in an original style. Write what you know. Don’t write about yourself. Don’t be conceited. Don’t be too intelligent. Don’t be poetic in quotation marks. Don’t be unsubtle. Be accessible. Don’t do what the reader expects. Don’t let anyone tell you how to write.
Don’t be timid. Don’t be fake. Don’t be depressed. Don’t be anxious. Don’t think about how few people read poetry. Be realistic. Don’t be self-conscious. Be yourself.
Edit the poem zero times. Edit the poem fifty times. Edit the poem between zero and fifty times. Edit the poem the correct number of times. Edit the poem until it is finished. Don’t overedit the poem. The poem is never finished.
Submit the poem everywhere. Publication leads to publication. Don’t worry about publication or your work will suffer. Always list your publications in your author bio so that readers will take you seriously.
Make an impression.
Erase your footsteps.