I’m about to take issue with one word in this sentence… And it’s only because it’s something I hear…

Oh, TeriJo, you are so busted!

There is no way you’re getting out of developing your poetry skills now :P

I believe the same thing applies in sport. Most of the kids I went to school with who were very talented at sport didn’t go on to have successful sporting careers. Why? I think it was because

  • they weren’t used to having to work hard at their sport. They were used to just rocking up and being better than others
  • they weren’t emotionally prepared to deal with the small failures that happen when you start competing against equally or more skilled athletes
  • they weren’t able to critically analyse what they could learn or do better, because they’d never had to think about what they did—it was all intuitive.

To me, these are the same reasons why some athletes make terrible coaches. The athletes who make great coaches are the ones who had to think about how and why they did things. They had to learn their skills, so they knew how to learn those skills and could teach others how to learn those skills.

Going back to my art—poetry—this is why reading is so important. It’s not just a matter of reading what we love and what we want to emulate. It’s reading new styles, seeing what we haven’t seen before, learning why we like or dislike it. Understanding the traditions behind it.

A few months ago I realised that my dislike of a particular poet’s work had nothing to do with her skill as a poet. I just didn’t like the predominant poetic forms in her work—the forms she had inherited from her culture, her ethnic background. She was highly skilled at using the form and its recurring themes and I just didn’t like those forms and themes. Nothing to do with her writing.

Maybe in future she’ll switch to haiku (the real Japanese form, with a focus on nature and the immediate) and I’ll love it.

Anyway, I love what you’ve written here.

And I look forward to seeing more of your poetry.

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