Sunday, August 31, 2014

Poetry Pantry #216


Photos from Kuala  Lumpur, Malaysia,
by Kaykuala (Hank)



1. Vanda
A clump of hardy Vandas. Vandas can be left in the sun without any cover or shade


2. Phalaenopsis
These need shades and can even be indoors. The blooms can last for a month. Some species
can even hold out for 3 months apparently.

3.Oncicioium
These have many varieties and are more of miniature sprays. Many are strikingly of yellow hues

4. Denrobium
These need cover and are of individual stalks.  The stalks sprout from between the leaves progressing
 upwards stalk by stalk as it grows while the older ones die off

5. Cattalia
These are of an individually growing specie flower by flower


Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is Labor Day weekend here in the United States.  To me this really heralds the end of summer. Sigh. However, it could be quite warm throughout September.  There are traditionally family get-togethers or barbecues on this day, and today my family is no exception. A BBQ is planned here for afternoon.  And, alas, the grandkids go back to school on Tuesday. I wonder where has the summer gone!

But back to poetry! It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.  I just don't GET people who link and enjoy visits, yet don't bother to visit others -- even those who spent time making comments on their poetry.

This week I am sharing a third and final set of photos that Hank (Kaykuala) shared from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Thanks again, Hank.  It has been an interesting series.

Be sure to visit Poets United Monday to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see there is always a  great turn-out for Midweek Motif.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!  (And, ha, perhaps many of you have noticed that if you look at one week's prompt Susan gives  a clue about the following week's prompt as well, so you can get a head start.)

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Again:  I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

Mince Meet
By "mood wings"

No one mints me in candy tar, except you—
deceased taint tampers via simple laryngitis.
Dearest Equestrian Bank—undo my stamp;
tamper with fire beneath lava's language play.

The peach stamen of the moon 
dines on a ploy of pi in my carnal jurisdiction.
Orience has put severance in fraud—
recipe for a dead flower.

Polonia codes pee asthenia.
In preamble to pajamas, gallbladders try anything,
calculating our steam for Pheme.
Puce America—clandestine without genes.

Neck-Eden is my guru. Can't you ... for me?
Sigh Nietzsche. Cone-unsag a simulator; curve (eventually)
sinister mice. The paramecium ride is raw— 
nuts, tools, Burroughs, Pietà, Avant-Yule.

No one mints me in candy tar, except you—
deceased taint tampers via simple laryngitis,
dearest. Equestrian, bank-undo Myst amp; 
tamper with fire beneath lava's language play.

Vision and disinterest are my prison doors.
Latency pulls the berries offered 
by Paradise and Caesar. Art puts sea fairies                 
inside Nicodemus's piñata of favored ignorance.


Good heavens, what have I given you this time? Sound poetry? Abstract poetry? Free association? Not quite.

This poem was written in response to a very recent prompt at dVerse Poets Pub.  We were invited to try homophonic translation (which I also know by the term translitics) i.e. turning the sounds of a poem in an unknown language into words in our own language.

Here is a link to the original and its real English translation, on the prompter's own blog.

There were some amazingly clever attempts, most of which managed to make some kind of sense. Some were surprisingly coherent and several were quite beautiful.  A couple were even fairly close in meaning to the original. (I couldn't resist having a go, but was very short of time, so my own efforts remained pretty weird, lol.) You can check them all out here if you're interested.

So why is this the one I wish I'd written? As you may have realised by now, I have a quirky sense of humour. This one tickled my funny-bone with such deliciously serious-sounding meaninglessness as, "Cone-unsag a simulator", "gallbladders try anything", "a ploy of pi in my carnal jurisdiction", and above all, "No one mints me in candy tar, except you". How could anyone not fall in love with that line? (Damn! I want to be minted in candy tar too.) And then, "the peach stamen of the moon" sounds so beautiful, I am seduced into thinking I can visualise it exactly.

The apparent seriousness includes some scholarly references. "Mood wings" adds a note:

A little light reading, if you're at all intrigued:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet%C3%A0_(Michelangelo)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Burroughs
http://orienceintegration.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puce
http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/asthenia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheme
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonia

The poet was happy to give me permission to use the piece. However she protects her privacy even on her blogs, so I am unable to tell you her name or show you a photo.  This, from her poetry blog, perhaps says it all:



But she generously allowed me to share some quite personal details about her life and her poetics, and she includes the links to her blogs, at one of which you might catch more of her poetry — if you're quick! I am quoting verbatim from her email, as I'm sure I couldn't paraphrase it so engagingly:

Well, you can say I've gone by many names on many blogs that pop up and disappear just as quickly. You can say I'm a busy mother of four who homeschools. (My kids are ages 11, 6, 4, and 6 months; my husband and I have 3 girls and 1 boy ... he's the baby.) 

You can say that I love library books, word play, poetry, philosophy, quotes, art, candles, and music. Some of my "likings" and musings can be found at chalkpetals.blogspot.com. At herthursday.blogspot.com, I offer original poetry (temporarily, at least; I don't keep them live for long ... nor do I ever publish) ... and also prompts. Picture prompts are on Tuesdays, and Word Prompts are on Thursdays.

Also, if you like, you can say that I hate my poetry the day after I write it and can't stand the thought of anyone being able to read it once it's crossed over into the category of "disgustingly terrible poetry." My greatest passion then becomes an embarrassment. That's why I'm always and ever "deleting myself."

I guess we can all relate to that feeling of embarrassment at our "disgustingly terrible poetry". I know I can. As I told her in reply, there are some of mine which, immediately after writing, I recognise as THE most wonderful poem ever written by anyone anywhere ever. But, like the rest, a few days later they become atrocious things I should never have let anyone else see. It takes longer to arrive at an objective assessment. Indeed, can we ever be completely objective about our own work, or is it only others who can see it clearly enough?

I expect you may want to urge her not to discard her writings entirely even though she deletes them from her blog. Don't worry, I have already expressed that opinion to her! But in the end they are her poems, to do with as she will.

What I think is most wonderful is the human impulse to creativity, which makes us continue to write, to craft our work, to give it life in the world for however long or short a time. People who are not poets think poetry is a form of self-expression. It is that, of course; but we know it is, above all, our art.

The Buddhist monks make elaborate sand pictures which they then erase. Natalie Goldberg suggested that poets setting up "spontaneous writing" booths give away the poems they write for other people, keeping no copies  — again, in a Zen spirit of letting go. My friend Phillip put a whole notebook of poems, of which he had no other copies, into his brother's coffin. His sister was horrified to think of the poems being lost. "She didn't understand," he told me.

I don't have that bigness of heart myself, or that non-attachment, to send my poems back into the void — and "mood wings" is not doing so in a Buddhist spirit — but still, it's a valid option.  And although I don't discard every poem I produce, I do discard quite a lot.

Perfectionism is an enemy in most areas of life. It can undermine our self-esteem; at its worst it can paralyse us. Poetry is the one area where I allow myself to be perfectionist. Getting it absolutely as good as I can does matter. I usually keep poems that aren't working for a long time, tinkering and rewriting, but with some I eventually face the fact that nothing's ever going to help, and I get rid of them. Others may be filed away for years and when I finally look at them again, my fresh eyes immediately see what will fix them.

The opposite to the Buddhist monks might be Emily Dickinson, keeping her poems despite rejection and her own uncertainty about them — to have them be found and acclaimed after her death.  But if that happens to any of us, we won't be around to know. Better, surely, to live in the here and now and follow the guidance of our hearts, which of course won't be the same for everyone.

Pardon me waxing all philosophical. They are interesting questions, I think. But the poem's the thing, and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

P.S. Now, after all that hifalutin speculation, I just received another email explaining that she does keep her poems, just not publicly. After a short while she puts the poems back into "draft" on her blog so that she can edit them later when she's more objective.  I admit, I'm glad!


Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ An Evening Out

File:Toronto Skyline at dusk.jpg

Toronto Skyline at dusk.jpg



O!  Evening Poems
exist in the thousands for loners and nature lovers, 

for children's bed time and would be-lovers, for the end 
of life and all things melancholy ~ 

But where are the poems of the happy hours before, 
during and after dinner?  Where are poems of evenings out 
when we put work aside and sigh and call a friend 
to play or join a family for dinner or . . . ?




Midweek Motif ~ An Evening Out


Maybe there's one in your past?
Maybe it's a fantasy?
You decide.


Write a poem describing 

a marvelous evening out.


Poetic Inspiration:

    
      BY HOWARD MOSS

We have the whole evening ahead of us,
We think, our eyesight starting to weaken,
We must have missed the houselights growing dim,
But how could that moment have escaped us when
The roots of the paper trees struck water
And transformed themselves into the real thing—
. . . .
           (Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)


          Silver Roses
     BY RACHEL WETZSTEON 
The strings, as if they knew
the lovers are about to meet, begin
to soar, and when he marches in the door
they soar some more—half ecstasy, half pain,
the musical equivalent of rain—
while children who have grown up with one stare
steal further looks across a crowded room,
as goners tend to do.
 . . . . 
                     (Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)


#

Please:  

1.    Post your  Evening Out poem on your site, and then link it here.
2.    If you use a picture include its link.  
3.    Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
4.    Leave a comment here.
5.    Honor Poets United by visiting and commenting on our poems.

(Next week's Midweek Motif will be Stormy Weather.) 

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Monday, August 25, 2014

LIFE OF A POET ~ KATHLEEN OF THE OZARKS

This week, kids, we are making a trek to the Ozarks, to visit talented poet and photographer, Kathleen Everett, who writes at The Course of Our Seasons. Kathleen took the glorious photos that grace this interview, and I was hard pressed to limit myself to a handful. Kathleen has a cool story, so gather 'round, draw your chairs in close, and let's dive in. 





Sherry: Kathleen, I'm stoked. I've been wanting to hear your story since I read of your love of the Ozarks. Give us a mental snapshot of where, and with whom, you live today, kiddo. Tell us about falling in love with the Ozarks.



A sweet pic of me and Bob, photoshopped by a friend 
- the background is pretend!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Poetry Pantry # 215

Photos from Kuala  Lumpur, Malaysia,
and Achech, Indonesia, by Kaykuala (Hank)



Achech - Indonesia
Vegetable Plots
We passed by little plots of chillies, ladies' fingers and brinjals /egg-plants when walking 
along through the villages

Acheh  -  Indonesia
 The scenery is similar to regions of South-East Asia

Acheh - Indonesia
Inland Lake
A calming effect can be felt immediately. It is exhilarating and much better being there

Kuala Lumpur
Putrajaya: Transit stop to KLIA (Airport)
There is an LRT transport system that connects the City to the nearby suburbs  The City is currently
undergoing massive construction works for an MRT system to complement the LRT and to extend
the lines further to about 30 km from the City center It is expected to be ready by 2018

Kuala Lumpur
Traditional Streets
Typical of the inner streets. This was in mid-morning a few hours before the lunch hour rush

Kuala Lumpur
Shops in the inner City are those ideal for tourists with items unlike those at the big shopping Malls


Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.  I just don't GET people who link and enjoy visits, yet don't bother to visit others -- even those who spent time making comments on their poetry.

This week I am sharing a second set of photos that Hank (Kaykuala) shared from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Achech, Indonesia.  I will be sharing the last set of his photos next week.  How wonderful it is to be able to visit so many parts of the world through the Pantry. 

Be sure to visit Poets United Monday to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see there is always a  great turn-out for Midweek Motif.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!  (And, ha, perhaps many of you have noticed that if you look at one week's prompt Susan gives  a clue about the following week's prompt as well, so you can get a head start.)

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Again:  I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Living Dead

 Honouring our poetic ancestors

Lean Out of the Window
by James Joyce (1882-1941)

Lean out of the window, 
Goldenhair, 
I hear you singing 
A merry air. 

My book was closed, 
I read no more, 
Watching the fire dance 
On the floor. 

I have left my book, 
I have left my room, 
For I heard you singing 
Through the gloom. 

Singing and singing 
A merry air, 
Lean out of the window, 
Goldenhair. 

Would you have expected this charming little ditty to have come from the pen of James Joyce, the writer of Ulysses, Finnegan's Wake, etc.?

The great novelist was "considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century" (Wikipedia) for his stream-of-consciousness prose. His poetry, by contrast, was usually delicate and romantic. Sometimes the language seems ornate, and even a trifle antiquated to our present perception, given that the poems were published in the 20th Century.

It's mostly love poetry — very different from the straightforwardness and vigour of Burns's love poetry, which I shared with you last time. It can sound contrived. It can feel merely sentimental. Poetically, I think some of it is frankly awful! (Perhaps it's just me. I have never been able to get past the third page of his celebrated novel, Ulysses.) 


At the time it was written, his poetry was highly regarded by many, including poets of the calibre of Pound and Yeats. Even now the "awful" ones are few. There are more which I enjoy.

I like this one's sweetness and relative simplicity. It conveys much, not only by what is said but also by what is left unsaid. (Often, in poetry, less is more.) And, in this and others, he uses rhyme and repetition beautifully. Seemingly slight, this piece lifts my spirits and stays with me, the way some songs do.

His poems can be found at PoemHunter. Incidentally, I always switch off the new audio feature at the PoemHunter site. I hate the metallic, robotic diction, devoid of expression, in which everyone's poems there are read; though I expect it's a useful service for the visually impaired. You can hear a better reading of Joyce's poems here. (It's a disconcertingly busy page at first glance. Find and click on the audio at top right.)

You can also download free — or read online — this pdf of his poems.

Both Amazon and Amazon UK have pages and pages of his books.  He was also a playwright, a critic, and a prolific letter writer. His "dirty letters" to his wife Nora — the great, passionate love of his life — are famous for just that, the "dirtiness". Apparently, when they were to be separated for some time, they made a pact to write each other erotic letters. She is also said to be the inspiration for his character in Ulysses, Molly Bloom. A number of his poems were written to her, though perhaps not this one as she is always shown with dark hair. This photo is of James and Nora.





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif: Social Good


“And just when you’d think [humans] were more malignant than ever Hell could be, they occasionally showed more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of.” 
― Terry Pratchett


“The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.” 


According to Mahatma Gandhi, there are Seven Deadly Sins that could destroy society:
  • Politics without principle.
  • Wealth without work.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Education without character.
  • Science without humility.
  • Worship without sacrifice. 

Do you agree?

With the important ingredient, 
is each of these a social blessing?


Your Poetry Challenge:  
  • Let one of Gandhi's social evils inspire you to illustrate one of your own social goods.  
  • 160-word limit--the length of Whitman's poem about work below.


Poetic Inspiration:

I Hear America Singing

Walt Whitman1819 - 1892
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
     and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
     work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the
     deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
     as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the
     morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at
     work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
     fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Please:  
1.    Post your Social-Good poem on your site, and then link it here. Does it come under the 160-word limit? 
2.    If you use a picture include its link.  
3.    Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
4.    Leave a comment here.
5.    Honor  us by visiting and commenting on others' poems.


(Next week's Midweek Motif will be An Evening Out.)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Chat Between Two Poets-Annell Livingston

Today I have something really special for you, kids. Our friend Annell Livingston, of Some Things I Think About, recently lost her beloved son, Jim, to cancer. She has been writing a series of beautiful poems to and about him, making her journey along the shores of grief. Annell and I have been chatting by email through all of this, and it occurred to me this chat might be of broader interest, since none of us escape being touched by death and loss in our lives. Annell is willing to share the depth of her journey with us, which feels to me like the most sacred privilege. Do join us, in our reverent conversation about grief and loss, and what it is teaching us. Annell, in walking this difficult path, is exhibiting grace in action. She is showing us how. [Note: the beautiful art is Annell's.]





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Poetry Pantry #214

Photos from Kuala  Lumpur, Malaysia by Kaykuala


The Cenotaph
To commemorate those fallen in the 3 major conflicts of WWI, WWII and the Emergency. Some
Caucasian tourists busy snapping away that morning


The National Monument
This National Monument was specifically in honor of the security forces (Police and Military) who died during the Emergency (1948 - 1960) Created by Felix de Weldon who was also the creator of the Iwo Jima memorial


The Central Market (facade)
A wet market now retained as a heritage structure It was converted into a center catering for tourists
who desire to purchase goods and souvenirs

Central Market  (inside)
Items for sale are cultural in nature catering for both with expensive tastes as well as those
who prefer souvenirs. A Caucasian couple who happened to be there shopping when Hank snapped
this picture

Central Market  -  Artist at Work (inside)
It includes also a number of artists' studios.This artist was working on a portrait when he obliged
Hanks's request to snap this picture


Jogging Track
A Jogging track that surrounds a man made lake in Hank's neighborhood. For those more
adventurous a jungle trek is also available closer to the jungle fringes.

Mini Par Course
Otherwise one can make do with a Mini Par course adjoining the lake area

 Foot Path
The foot paths in some other parts of the City not too far away can be quaintly chic and friendly

Foot Path
One of those that are having lots of greenery

Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.  I just don't GET people who link and enjoy visits, yet don't bother to visit others -- even those who spent time making comments on their poetry.

This week I am sharing some photos that Hank (Kaykuala) shared from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I will be sharing more of his photos for the next two weeks.  From what I have read from Hank over the years, Malaysia seems like a most interesting and beautiful place to live.

Be sure to visit Poets United Monday to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see there is always a  great turn-out for Midweek Motif.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!  (And, ha, perhaps many of you have noticed that if you look at one week's prompt Susan gives  a clue about the following week's prompt as well, so you can get a head start.)

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Again:  I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
fame,
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.


if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

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.

Furthermore, there's no telling who will be chosen. They won't necessarily be admirable in any other way — for instance the dreadful man who penned the above lines! I think many of us might have found him reprehensible if we'd met him. He was often drunk, looked unkempt, and judging by an interview I once saw, was apparently a nasty drunk, verbally abusing and physically hitting out at his wife, albeit childishly and ineffectually. Not a pretty picture!

The Wikipedia article (click on the link on his name, above) describes the terrible childhood which formed this personality and led to his embrace of alcohol.

No doubt there was another side to him, as he had devoted friends and famous admirers. Above all, he wrote like a god. It clearly poured out of him "by itself" — sometimes with the help of his alter ego whom he named Henry Chinaski, plus a voice in Henry's head, known as Mr Bones.

He was a prolific writer and poet, as you can see at PoemHunter and his Amazon page. As well as poetry he wrote novels, short stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction.

For the rest of us, we may need to stare at the computer screen awhile, or rewrite something several times. Everyone in this community is familiar with writing to prompts rather than waiting for inspiration. I don't think there's anything wrong with any of that. Even the greatest of us may resort to exercises to learn our craft. I don't think any means of courting the muse is guaranteed to produce either inferior or superior poetry. 

I like to think he's talking about the overall necessity, that compulsion we have to spend our lives in this way, rather than the urgency of expression in any particular moment.

Still, how wonderful those moments when the muse arrives unbidden, when we are taken over and the poetry writes us!  Isn't it what we live for?

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).