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17 Aug: What Does a Poem Mean?

I was in a poetry workshop where a talented poet wrote, “I had to burn my brother’s body in order to stay alive during the night.”

I responded, “Oh, how sweet; the brother sacrifices himself in order to keep the sister alive.”

My neighbor said, “No, that’s not it. She’s empowered. She killed her brother in order to take care of herself.”

The instructor said, “You can shorten this to ‘I burned my brother and lived off the warmth.’”

The writer said, “I have no brother. Everything in this poem is a lie.”

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05 Jul: How to Write Like a Kid Again

There is a flotilla of actual research that suggests kids already think like poets. They notice imagery, think in metaphors, and act as though everything is alive and has human consciousness, from their real pet frog to their stuffed giraffe. All I had to do was introduce a concept like “personification” or “metaphor” and let them dash away with their pens and paper into the happy land of kid speak. They would come back with Pulitzer Prize winning lines like, “Earth, do you enjoy spinning?” or, “I heard a caterpillar’s heart breaking when it turned into a butterfly.” When writing poems about science, one little girl wrote, “Pluto is not a planet. It is a tear the first astronaut cried when he saw our world spinning alone in space.”

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22 Jun: Set Your Words Free: How to Shake Off a Writing Rut

The thing about changing your writing, unlike changing your life, is that it is much easier. You don’t have to max out your credit cards on a trip to Italy, find a guru in India, or go to Bali to fall head over heels. (#EatPrayLove.) All you have to do is change your words. Words are the building blocks of poems, and hence, the building blocks of your ideas; your style; your substance. If you change the words, and the way you use them, you change everything – and that means both inside and out.

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24 May: Why I Chose a Poetry Career Over Death

Americans have a funny relationship to money. We think that money will buy happiness, and unhappiness will bring us money.

From a young age, I knew I wanted to spend my life making art (poetry hadn’t yet entered my existence), but I also really, really wanted to have money. I worried that if I did something that made me happy, like futzing with poetry and making a mess with finger paints, I would have no money. So, I compromised and became an English teacher, which sometimes made me happy, sometimes made me very depressed, often made me tired, and absolutely did not make me rich.

Debunking the myth that writers are Special, How to write authentically, the poetry salon, Tresha Haefner

17 May: Are You a Writer? Debunking the Myth that Writers Are Special

There is a myth about writing – all art in fact – that it takes a special personality to do it. A special visionary with a special set of skills, handed down by God at birth, to distinguish the true artist from all other beasts of burden working in the field. The artist has a special sensitivity, a gift for seeing, an affinity for language that puts him or her in a category above other people, the way saints are elevated in the Catholic Church after curing the blind or allowing kings to pull their body apart on a rack.

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17 May: More on the Advantages of Writing Badly

I never have writer’s block, and my husband hates me for it.

If you ask him, or any of my friends or family really, they will affirm that expressing what I’m thinking is not my issue. There are no end of things to discuss and no end to my valuable opinions about them, and since most of my friends know this and avoid taking my calls as a result, I have nobody to tell about my opinions except the page. The page never talks back. It’s a great listener. When I write a first draft, I don’t care if it is good because I can always delete it before some analog human comes along with opinions that are different than mine (i.e. wrong).