“Every single one of us has a story which is unique with its own set of twists and turns. No two lives are the same regardless of the similarity because every individual lives their own life, telling their own stories.” You said this in a post on June 22 and it startled me, because it was so very familiar, so similar to something I was saying in an early paragraph in the book I am finishing.
I genuinely appreciate your electing to “follow” me, as I have now done you, and am in the midst of reading your work. I always feel free to comment, in public, on writing — non-fiction and fiction. But rarely if ever poetry. I am, and always have been primarily a poet. I have taught poetry, both from academic/literary and writing perspectives, and I understand how much more personal it is. I hesitate to discuss it in a public forum, among strangers, about a stranger’s work especially.
But I am always happy to blabber on about what I know. I have always told writers to not listen to writing teachers, for one thing, when they tell the two most important untruths: first, they tell you to write about what you know and, second, they tell you that old saw about “kill your darlings.” (Let me tell you something: If you are a writer of any talent, and your “darlings” need to die, you will watch them shrivel up on the page of their own accord…) No. If you have any talent as a writer the only two things to know are that you should write as often as possible and read the best books you can to help you write better (and I don’t mean self-help books). As a poet, you are no different than any other writer in that you want to know what you are writing about (and I don’t mean self-help books). Write about things you don’t know and read about them to find out. Or go out into the world and find out about them without reading. Explore. Discover. Learn. Travel. Engage. Fight for something you believe in.
And you want to follow the best examples, the ones you most admire from other poets. Find new poets if you aren’t fired up enough. If you aren’t feeling what the French call frisson on the 25th reading of someone’s poem, something is missing. Once you’ve found that, once you feel that tingle from your neck to your toes, read that poet as often as possible and do what they do. There is no harm in that. You always end up writing differently, in your own voice, no matter what. Do that and you will always be improving. That’s what’s important.
And always remember: Live in virtue, or die in virtue. Be no one’s slave, but particularly no slave to injustice. You aren’t some novelist or blogger. If you are a poet, there are rules. I love that there are still people like you in the world.