Archive for advice

04.27.2008

Posted in Poetry, Prose, Quotes with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Letters To a Young Poet (an excerpt from the collected letters of Rainer Wilke)

You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now (since you have allowed me to advise you) I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spread out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of the night: must I write?

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03.20.2008

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by Ryan Sanford Smith

Letter To A Young Poet (a poem by R. S. Thomas, who has awesome initials!)

For the first twenty years you are still growing
Bodily that is: as a poet, of course,
You are not born yet. It’s the next ten
You cut your teeth on to emerge smirking
For your brash courtship of the muse.
You will take seriously those first affairs
With young poems, but no attachments
Formed then but come to shame you,
When love has changed to a grave service
Of a cold queen.

From forty on
You learn from the sharp cuts and jags
Of poems that have come to pieces
In your crude hands how to assemble
With more skill the arbitrary parts
Of ode or sonnet, while time fosters
A new impulse to conceal your wounds
From her and from a bold public,
Given to pry.

You are old now
As years reckon, but in that slower
World of the poet you are just coming
To sad manhood, knowing the smile
On her proud face is not for you.