John Haines - Becoming a Poet: One Step at a Time

Moderators: thief of dreams, nekot

Post Reply
User avatar
Poetry Piper
Posts: 1568
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:11 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

John Haines - Becoming a Poet: One Step at a Time

Post by nekot » Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:47 pm

Bee Jay posted the following article in the workshop area: ... 19&t=53640
Thanks Bee Jay!!

And I am posting it here. :grin:

Becoming a Poet: One Step at a Time
by John Haines

1. Write when you feel moved to, in response to some inner necessity, or when provoked by something in the outside world. If it is of help, set yourself a working schedule, but do not attempt to force your talent; let it develop at its own pace. You are not entering a competition or a popularity contest.

2. Read and reread the following: Rainer Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet; Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads; the Letters of John Keats; T.S. Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent; Edwin Muir’s The Estate of Poetry. Texts such as these do not date.

3. Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Take your time, question your motives, and seek to understand the true nature of creative growth.

4. Don’t overemphasize public exposure. Avoid taking part in “slams,” or if you find them entertaining be sure you are not misled by the public attention. If you read your poems to an audience occasionally, read also a few poems by the old masters and the well known moderns. Better yet:

5. Memorize a few good poems from the English classics as well as from the modern masters—from Wordsworth, Yeats, Eliot, Stevens, etc. Be able to recite them to yourself or to your friends.

6. Now and then show a few of your poems to someone whose judgment you respect. Listen to what he or she might have to say about them, but do not rely too heavily on another’s opinion. Seek out the best poems you can find; put your own work beside them and see where it falls short or in some way.

7. Take note of the number of drafts your poems go through. If you began writing easily and fluently, you may find that in time you will become less easily satisfied and more self-critical. This is called growth.

8. Try working in different forms. Don’t be satisfied to write in an acceptable contemporary “free” verse. Recall Eliot: “No verse is free for the (individual) who wants to do a good job.”

9. Don’t be afraid of influences. Seek them out, and be willing to submit yourself for the time being to a stronger talent from whom you might learn. When you have absorbed the lessons, you may emerge a better writer. Remain open, and read widely.

10. From time to time send a few of your poems to magazines. Whether they are rejected or accepted, compare them to some of the work being published; try to decide in what ways your own may differ in style or idiom, but avoid trying to write in what appears to be an acceptable mode.

11. When you have been writing for several years, have published a few poems, consider publishing a small collection, a “chapbook.” This can be an exciting moment, especially if your poems attract some attention. But don’t let it go to your head, and beware of becoming a celebrity, if only briefly.

12. Do not rely on grants, prizes, or fellowships. Consider instead the many kinds of worthwhile work outside literature. If university life attracts you, consider the many fields of study in which you might find a satisfaction, earn a degree, and teach.

13. Remain humble. Always return to the masters and try to learn from them. Consider how many “names” have disappeared, how few poets survive beyond their own time.

14. Finally, consider the following, written many years ago by William Carlos Williams to a young poet: “…read, read, read, all the examples of verse you admire, and some you do not admire…but don’t expect quick success…keep writing, and use your head and your eyes and concentrate just as much as you can into every word and clause and sentence. The rest is up to you.”

View it here: Becoming a Poet: One Step at a Time
~eloquently scattered~
nekot's tokens


User avatar
Babbling Brook Poet
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:02 am
Tag line: A Future in Words
Location: Hyderabad India

Re: John Haines - Becoming a Poet: One Step at a Time

Post by BeeJay » Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:58 am

Nekot: Its nice that you thought of posting these. Truly nice to know so much is out here on Poetry Pages._______BeeJay :roll:
If the Universe was a little smaller , I may just be able to reach out to you. Copyright © 2009 Baru Gobira

Post Reply

Return to “Poet Laureate October 2007 - March 2008: Nekot”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests