I have been asked so often various questions on how a poet is supposed to act, where they are supposed to perform, who they are supposed to support… I answer the question and conclude with, “this is my perspective.” I try to remember my conversations and dialogue with various artists and crowds at educational institutions to be better prepared for these “life of a poet questions”. Recently as I was browsing the shelves of the poetry section of a used book store…
“Run Toward Fear: Poems and a Poet’s Handbook” by Haki Madhubuti
An elder, award winning poet, essayist, educator, founder & publisher of Third World Press and founder of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State. I suppose he too became bombarded with questions from our generation on this art form now once again prominently (cause this ain’t new people!) in the forefront called poetry and wrote words of refreshing encouragement and guidance.
Pick the book up! Writers and performers PERIOD not just poets! I have to share a few things until you get to the bookstore!
“You may not be able to earn a living exclusively as a poet or writer, but if you persist, work hard and nuture your talent; it is almost guaranteed that you will earn a life. To choose to be a “poet” as a professional endeavor is not very high on the preferred or most lucrative career path in our nation, therefore as a poet, you must adhere to a few standard and not so standard rules.”
ONE Learn to run toward fear. Understand that-even with the emergence of performance poetry and poetry slams and the increasing number of individuals who profess to be poets–few people actually read poetry. Understand that although smallminded individuals rule the world, it is always right to question, challenge and hold them accountable for their actions.
TWO Think about, read, and study more poetry than you write.
THREE Repeat number two.
FOUR Minimize the praise given to your poetry from parents, friends, lovers, siblings, spouses, running buddies, cheerleading squads, creditors and former lovers.
TEN Write your truth and you will seldom have writer’s block.
ELEVEN Most people think that they can write poetry. Many of them are right and need encouragement.
THIRTY-NINE Poets must be acutely aware of “fame” which is like a flame in the brain and will cut serious writing potential by 85% and turn most of the poets it consumes into game show participants and other cultural embarrassments.
In total he offers his golden wisdom in 40 rules. I am positive this book will help any writer/poet in their endeavors. I know I will use it as a resource for my performances/lectures!
just passin’ some water along for the ’forever thirsty’!
speak on love,