It’s true. Poets are alive. They breathe, they eat, they slave away at their typewriters (what decade is this?) to make their soul-thoughts into real, tangible things we can hold in our hands, and spill coffee on. Sometimes, poets get up in front of people and say personal things about themselves, and read their poetry to strangers. Actually, they’re doing this a lot, and you should go watch them while they do it and maybe buy a book, and inconspicuously touch them shoe-to-shoe while they kindly write something silly in your copy like “good luck on YOUR poems.”
I started going to poetry readings in college, and got so hooked on them that I’m now willing to drive hours just to see poets I haven’t even read. The thing about writing is that it is highly personal… It’s something you do on your own, and sometimes, when you’re sitting in a dark room and contemplating how eerie it is that onions continue sprouting even in your pantry, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there doing exactly (well, probably not exactly…) the same thing you are. Sometimes I wonder if my writing lifestyle is disciplined enough, or if I spend enough time editing, or if any of it will ever get any easier. Listening to other poets read and talk about their work and lifestyle always inspires me, because it reminds me that there aren’t any real answers to these questions. Everyone is different.
Writers don’t just read their work… They answer questions, they tell us about their writing life. A couple of things I’ve learned:
Sofia Starnes is a ritualistic writer who takes a few quiet hours at night to work, but doesn’t write when she’s traveling.
And it’s normal for Tracy K. Smith to take breaks from writing poetry.
Yet, all the advice is telling us we need to practice our art everysingledaynoexceptionswhatesoever. Just do what works for you.
And what’s more, listening to poets read their work, on wonderful, rare occasions, can be so powerful that you forget to breathe for entire stanzas. Who wouldn’t drive a few hours for that?