Steps Towards Becoming a Poet

Developing Poets

_____The typical newcomer to poetry goes through these stages in their initial development:
They don't read poetry, lest their "originality" be compromised.
"I don't want to write like Shakespeare or Eliot. I want to write like me. I want to write poetry that resonates with people like me--people who don't read poetry. The plan is simple and flawless."
They begin with the assumption that they are unique and fascinating.
"Surely my uniqueness--the fact that I like to write but not read poetry, for instance--will keep the world spellbound, right?"
"It's all a matter of taste!" becomes their motto.
"Surely no one can say for a certainty that Shakespeare's writing is better than mine, right?"
They "express themselves" with endless rants and soap operas.
"Surely the loves, trials and tribulations of another human being can never become boring--especially if that human being is me, right?"
An experienced reader tells them that this is the antithesis of poetry.
"What does she know? She's only read a few thousand poems and I've read...well, none, but, hey, who is she to tell me what poetry is?"
Ignore or attack knowledgeable critics. Continue journal writing.
"Don't you understand that all good writing has to come from the heart and not the brain?"
Call themselves unorthodox while strictly observing Dennis Hammes Rules (or PJR's rulez 4 aspiring ~poets~ if a younger novice).
"Surely no one before me has ever written about falling in love or losing a lover, right? It's not like we have to do research!"
They notice that, beyond friends, no one is paying any attention.
"Hmm, why aren't people reviewing my work? Because it's perfect, maybe? Hello? Hello?"
They begin to wonder what it is that people enjoy reading.
"What's wrong with these people that don't recognize my genius? What does it take to get their attention? Dancing nudes?"
They start reading to determine what people find enjoyable.
"Let's see what these so-called 'experts' are writing that other people seem to think is so fascinating."
A poem impresses them with the telling as much as the story.
"Hey, that is kind of neat. I don't think I've even seen that expression before! Why, it's like the writer made it up!"
They wonder if there are any "tricks" to this telling.
"You know what would be a really kewl idea? Doing some of this neat stuff on purpose so's people will wanna read my work."
They read a primer on the art form.
"Seriously, who'd have thought that people would write about how to write? Imagine: there are whole books on the subject!"
They look for and find these "tricks" in the poems that impress them.
"Hey, these tricks are everywhere! And they seem to come in lots of variations! How long have people known about these things?"
They practice these tricks ("techniques") themselves.
"I'm gonna try some of these tricks. Hell, now that I have the books, how tough can it be?"
They write their first actual--albeit bad--poem.
"Okay, so maybe this ain't quite so easy after all. But, hey, at least I've finally started!"

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