When you think about becoming a poet, what picture comes to mind? Is it one of a long-haired young man drinking black coffee in a local café? Or do you see a maiden with long blonde hair, daydreaming beside a flowing stream? If so, I’m afraid you’ve got it wrong. There is more involved in becoming a successful poet. It takes many cold, computer copied rejections and more than a “way with words,” to give birth to those lovely letters saying, “We liked your poem and would like to include it in our next issue.” It takes desire, determination, and mastering the basics.
Desire is a word connoting sexual passion. Webster’s first definition states it is a “conscious impulse toward an object or experience that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment.” Once you glimpse your Adonis – writing poetry – no other goal will do. TV, lunch out with friends, shopping are merely stand-ins for writing and getting your work heard and published. Poets who achieve their goals are those who are passionate about finding just the right, un-clichéd words. They seek original metaphors and similes to portray a scene, object, or feeling such as her touch felt ‘as light as a dandelion puff’ rather than the common place, ‘light as a feather.’ They know the need to be specific in their choice of words, like the crumbling school house, instead of just the school house.
Like a second in a duel, determination stands behind desire – holding the gloves, counting out the prescribed steps, saying you can do it. Seconds, Webster says, assist, attend, accompany. Without determination’s arrow resolutely aimed toward a specific end, desire would remain an impulse. With desire and determination in hand, the embryonic poet also needs to master the art of writing poetry. But how does he proceed? Here comes your faithful second – “If you want to win, you have to shoot the arrow and hit the mark.”
Listen to your second and begin by enrolling in a course on writing poetry at one of your local colleges, universities, or workshops. Then rise before the sun, and be borne into a world of words and styles, similes and metaphors, compression and alliteration, rhythm and rhyme. Listen avidly to the professor’s instructions, do your homework – revise, revise, revise – cut, cut, cut – until you might even hear him read your poem to the class and say, “Don’t you wish you could write like that?”
Of course the poems aren’t Pulitzer prize quality yet, but it could be a moment that changes your life. One that gives you purpose. One that leads to publication of your poems and the joy of sharing your insights and thoughts with readers.
For local poetry workshops contact Jannie Dresser at “Jannie Dresser” <email@example.com>