04 November 2009

How to kill a poem (before it even starts).

1. Write in close proximity to the dull, everyday tasks that you need to do. Example: poise yourself with notebook in the middle of a pile of dirty laundry. Turn on several fans so that tumbleweeds of pet hair cartwheel across the floor. Refresh your email inbox every five minutes and reply to even the most inane messages, even spam about the Ebay account you don't have.

2. Get a great idea, or even a promising idea, and then lose your nerve. Scan your memory (google works, too!) for other poems about the same thing, and convince yourself that they are all much better than your own poem.

3. Begin pondering the following questions. What is poetry, really? If I put a stack of poems on a scale opposite a bunch of bananas, which would weigh more, and therefore be more valuable? What else could I be doing right now?

4. Complain on your blog about not writing. Whine to your friends. Clip coupons. Berate yourself over all of the contests you didn't win, and the grants you didn't receive, even if you never applied in the first place.

5. Situate yourself in a public place. Make small talk (of the non-flirty variety). Tell people that you are a polymer scientist. Tell people that you make ships in a bottle for a living. Tell people that you invented the pylon cone. Run away screaming. Do not consider writing a poem about the experience.


Sara said...

Love this post! I also love your poem Portrait of Myself as a Piece of Red Candy in Your Mouth, I have hung it up on my cubicle wall so that I can glance at it and feel inspired. ~Sara

Justin Evans said...

you do know you are only scratching the surface of the many ways to kill a poem, don't you?

Nik said...

Hey! I invented the pylon cone.

Penultimatina said...

Thank you so much, Sara! That makes me totally want to go write a poem, and not to kill it in the process. :)

Joannie said...

An addendum to #2: Write in your same-old same-old, because it's familiar. (Yes, you can tell what I'm struggling with now.)

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