Sunday, June 28, 2009

Avoid people wearing turtlenecks. (Sunday's Poem, 23)

“Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?"

by Ron Koertge

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhh."

Then start again.


I found this poem on a site started by the former Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins. The site is called "Poetry 180," and it's supposed to give a poem a day to high school students.

I liked this one because of the advice: Write in a notebook with a kitten on the cover, in a library where a child plays with books... the message I get from that is reading, and writing, and poetry, are supposed to be
fun, enjoyable, not work. Some writers don't get that. Some readers don't get that-- that books and reading and writing should be approached like a child approaches everything in the world.

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