rules for poets now that anyone can write

July 8, 2009
Rules for Poets,
Now That Anyone Can Write

Timothy Shortell
  1. If you use the word 'soul,' you will be shot.

  2. Rhymes are appropriate to children's books and high school creative writing assignments. Formulae are beautiful only in mathematics.

  3. Repeat after me: "Revolutionary content, revolutionary form."

  4. All nights are not endless; all rains not gentle; all skies not azure; &c. &c.

  5. It is not a poem just because the line ends before the

  6. Some writers toss down whatever words come to mind. Others spend hours, weeks, months looking for just the right word.

    No wonder we are not all poets.

  7. If it hasn't been edited, it is not a poem. It is a draft.

  8. It is as difficult to write a poem as it is to write a symphony.

    Don't kid yourself.

  9. The importance of a private memory doesn't justify art.

  10. Have you ever torn up a sheet of paper into small pieces, so bad was the poem written on it? It is a good habit to start.

  11. If the artist doesn't distinguish between good and bad work, someone else will.

  12. Remember: even a monkey can mimic a poet.

  13. The world does not need another poem about a bad relationship. Save it for the diary.

  14. Poetry is about words, not ideas. If you want to make a point, write a manifesto.

  15. Speak every poem aloud. If is doesn't sound beautiful, it isn't a poem.

  16. Sylvia Plath used to get up at 4am and write until her children awoke at 8. She labored over every word. She rewrote and rewrote. She managed about a poem a day during this, her most productive time.

    How many do you write in a day?

  17. You would not invite your friends over and serve them rancid food and sour wine. Why not? Because you care about them, and you don't want to see them suffer.

    Have mercy. Discipline yourself.
--I remember seeing this years ago, and found it again after the line about "using the word 'soul'" was rattling in my brain. This list is exceedingly pretentious, but has some good points.
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