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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ars Poetica

At the time when my poems began getting published, I remember there was a widely-held view that poetry itself, and the making of it, ought not to be the subject of poetry. It was considered too inward, too self-referential, and so on. Yet, for a poet, this too is part of our experience — an intensely passionate and absorbing part.

I eventually arrived at the conclusion that there is no unfit subject for poetry. And I discovered that there is a great tradition of poems about poetry and the creation of poetry, known as Ars Poetica. I think the best of them have something to say to both writers and readers.

One of my favourites, by the great Yannis Ritsos, is currently featured in my 'I Wish I'd Written This' spot at Poets United. Here are a couple more which I came across recently and thought worth sharing:

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.

 —Charles Bukowski, So You want to be a Writer

In everything there resides a poem waiting to be tapped, drained in the bucket, refined and poured over a crispy waffle.
Stuck on the interstate, in a snow storm for hours while they clear a wreck, watching the encroaching piles of white stuff drift like glaciers toward you, there is a poem in that.
Get another sweater from when Heironymous closed 50 years ago, from your grandmother, there is a poem in that.
Kiss the love of your life on New Year's Eve, only to wake up alone in the morning, there is a poem in that.
There are poems in everything, and there is nothing you can do about it except hope one bites you.

—Brian Miller, who blogs at waystationone and is one of the hosts at the dVerse online poetry community

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