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Friday, March 31, 2017


I'm thinking I should write a guide to writing poems as well. I was going to do it once. I remember someone, an MFA Graduate, being outraged at the idea. You cannot have a textbook about writing poems. That seemed sacrilegious to him, somehow.  That's not why I abandoned the project, but I remember thinking, if it is sacrilegious to have a textbook, why is it also not sacrilegious to have an MFA program?  He refused to see my point, and got defensive: why was I attacking MFA programs, he wanted to know?

Of course, this would bring me back exactly to what I don't want to do in my other anti-textbook: tell them what good and bad poems are. I just get frustrated with other people's poems and want them to write better ones.  This almost always happens to me at poetry readings. I never say anything, of course, but I am thinking they should study with me and I would help them write better.

This is a curious delusion on my part.  I don't know quite how to abandon it, though I'm sure I should.  When I find poetry written the way it ought to be, I know that immediately too.    


Leslie B. said...

There are apparently textbooks on how to write poems now. I saw it in a Facebook thread.

Vance Maverick said...

Long ago I read this book of exercises in writing poetry. Most seemed wedded to a warm/bland notion of what poetry was about, with the salient exception of Charles Bernstein. Not sure what he was doing in such company ("like a Redon among Alma-Tademas," I wrote to someone) but that began a fruitful chain of reading. And I never wrote any poems.

Jonathan said...

Then I think I will have no exercises in my book.