(4/26/2006 3:12:00 PM)
I never went to writing school or a workshop or anything. So all I had to help me learn was other poems. Whenevr I found a poem I liked, I would do what I call a 'Scan' of it, drafting an alter-poem to stand alongside it.
It couldn't have the same metaphor or come to the same conclusion. The idea was to learn how the poet created and controlled tone - which I think is really my only talent as a writer.
Oddly, I found this approach made me more myself, than a copy of these models. I don't know if I can explain it. It is a process like parallel play - Poet A does his poem there; I do mine here. It is competitive - mine has to be within shouting distance of his.
I stopped doing it 30 years ago, as themes and topics of my own forced allt hose things off the page.
But I feel gratitude toward those poems for giving me a play-platform on which to test myself. If you think about it, it is the same way we learn to talk as small children - imitation, then expression.
(4/26/2006 2:26:00 PM)
I personally think it's important for a poet to read the work of other poets, because poetry writing is a skill and as with most skills we learn from people who have been doing it successfully for a long time. Intuition and creativity enter the equation when we try to be original. Just trying to do something 'new' does not always result in good poetry. It's kind of like some of those ads for laundry detergent: 'new, improved...'. Sometimes it just the same old stuff in different packaging.
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