“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.”
So writes Mark Strand in his beautifully simple poem “Eating Poetry”. The moment I first read those lines in a cramped corner of my school’s library, I was transfixed. Like many young disciples of literature, I had already discovered the acute pleasure of sitting alone and savoring a poem line by line. I knew how to linger over each word, how to hold onto it like a prayer, whispering it to myself without any regard for the outside world. However, I never had a way to encapsulate this experience. That is, until I discovered this poem.
As Mark Strand so accurately describes in “Eating Poetry”, literature has the ability to unleash a part of the human spirit that usually lies dormant, a slumbering grizzly buried beneath a thick blanket of mundanity. For some people, this hidden side is awoken by a stirring novel or a well-composed thesis. For me, the greatest thrill will always be found in poetry.
I sometimes wonder what my students must think when, in the middle of study hall, I lean back in my chair and sigh like some unseen man is whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I have all but swooned over the words of Anis Mojgani; I collect Billy Collins poems like roses. I often catch myself hugging a book of poetry as if it is some long-lost friend.
Writing poetry is a pleasure all its own, one that takes infinitely more work than enjoying the poetry of others. It is less like a grand seduction and more like a negotiation, the careful courtship of an idea. Although I love the satisfaction of finally producing a worthwhile poem after hours of staring out the window, there is nothing that compares with the simple pleasure of releasing your own artistic ego and letting another poet carry you away.
In this blog, I will be sharing advice on writing, culled from years spent scribbling on the backs of receipts and brown paper napkins, arguing with characters until my family members began to doubt my mental stability, and drawing maps of imaginary worlds that sometimes feel more realistic than the one I am currently inhabiting. There will be rants, confessions, and the assorted insight into my ongoing battle to publish my first novel. However, before I launch into the world of writing, I wanted to, as my students say, give a shout out to the fantastic poets and authors who set me on this path. Thank you, my friends. I’ve only gotten this far because of all the beautiful writing you set before me to gratefully devour.
If you are looking for blog-reading extra credit, look up the following:
“Eating Poetry”, Mark Strand
“Come Closer”, Anis Mojgani
“Nightclub”, Billy Collins