Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Write a Poem, Briefly

As I have so often found, don't bore me.
As I have rarely heard, make it about me.
As I've never heard, do it with craft.
As I've almost never heard, use less free verse.
As I've definitely never heard, learn what a dithyramb is and don't try it.
As I've heard, if it's therapy, don't show it to me.
As I live by, if you're in my family, I don't want to see it either.
Take your draft and slash it, brutally.
Don't stop slashing until only the bone remains.
Don't make any poem mean what you want it to.
Don't ever think the poem means what you think it does.
A poem means what the audience thinks it does.
The audience cannot be told what to think about it.
It is the audience's right to say "Fuck you".
It is not your right to say so to the audience.
If I can't understand it, you can't understand it.
Don't ever revise the poem.
Revise your understanding of the poem.
The poem knows more than you do about it.
Don't ever think about whether it is good.
It's not up to you.
Aim very carefully: You must hit the heart.
You have only one bullet.

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