when should i write poetry? ( for alc from poetry critical )

i’m not a poet unless i’m writing a poem. even after i’ve finished one, i’m not a poet, just a reader. readers aren’t poets. we don’t read poetically, don’t get into an arty dress and feel the tragic/comic sense of life passing through our lips as we recite some poem.

i’m not a poet because i feel poetic and start saying beautiful thoughts in a cute way; i’m not hemingway, faking out a macho. i’m not dylan or morrison, faking out a rimbaud rap to get liked; watching them watch me, saying to the crowd, “written poetry is dead, the only real’s what you do in bed.” i’m not that ‘do you like me, mr.?’ kid anymore.

i’m not a poet when i write poetic prose, cutified lawn fauns, like i do. nor are you.

i feel verbal, feel like making words. i start by saying stuff, lie to the page — “the air is round and my heart is high.”

i’ve no idea what this really means, but i see ‘air’ and ‘heart’. that’s the core, and i can visualize and make the necessary connection between them — ‘heart is like…’, ‘air is like…’. if i can find a connection that FEELS emotional to me, i can start to write poetry.

‘heart opens, air closes,
life slips in.
you take off your shirt
slip in the covers
sleep alone’

now i’m at the point where i should start writing poetry, try to find the real in this and what i really want to talk about. start seeing this shirt and this bed — the things the reader can see — and wonder what they’ve really got to do with me.

there’s a problem with poetry today. inferior teachers are teaching us that anything you like is real, without showing you more to like than what they know or can handle. you’re not a poet because you feel poetic, you’re a poet because you’ve written something you can see in a year and not cringe at, because you’ve honestly worked to find the poetry in the poem you’re writing.

this is just my opinion, and all writing is an experiment. i look forward to reading what other writers


philip guston


think is real about poetry for the poet.