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January 17, 2010


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As an inveterate poetic fumbler, let me say thank you for this post.

This was great. I smiled and I laughed as I read this. Very true and well put. I have so much to say in response, but my inefficiency is manifesting right at this moment...

Brad: I am so on board with what you're saying here. Myself, I'm quite sure that most everything I've ever written that's any good has found its way to life by the accident of trial and error vis a vis the ole "ass in chair" approach. It's all about the thumb twiddle and the wait.


Agreed that poetry does not resemble learning Spanish or mastering chess: there's no guarantee you'll get better. Any poet who has spent enough years at it will feel a certain humility. And who would not praise experience versus book learning, as Jill does above. One impulse from a vernal wood will teach you more of life etc. Well, I believe it, and yet I hedge my bets by writing prose and by editing books, and you do get better at these things with practice, and so I am in the prolific camp, knowing that I am happiest if I write every day or almost every day just as I know it will make me happy to listen to a Sinatra song every day. The act of writing is pleasure enough regardless of what you produce. To yak efficiently is a funny concept. To write poetry efficiently is at least as weird a construction. Your phrase about the "mess of my personal papers" made me think of Frank O'Hara's "aficionado of my mess," which has the virtue of praising the reader ("aficionado") and deprecating the self ("mess"), and there you have it, the O'Hara charm. Thanks, Brad.

" The act of writing is pleasure enough regardless of what you produce. " Easy for you to say, DL.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
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