December 10, 2014

So You Want to Be a Poet?

So you want to be a poet?

Warning: Necessary and literary f-bombs ahead! 


“Poetry should be exciting, it should upset the grandmothers and make strong men puke. Make the spiders laugh and the sea shit back.” Charles Bukowski


I don’t intend on ever writing to condition the mass mind of this world.

I will be soft, but not with my truth.

Poetry is where the words roar from the pits of my belly onto paper.

Poetry is a gift—the richest kind.

It doesn’t come from inside, it comes from the walls. I do not feel I have the right to alter the words, delete them—for they are not mine.

My only accountability is to give them to you—whether you like what I say or not is not the point.

Poetry isn’t about kissing ass.

I’m not writing to make friends.

To be nice to you, to stroke your ego, low self esteem, tell you why.

We never know why.

I don’t know why, that guy doesn’t know why and you sure as hell don’t either.

You’ll be on your deathbed still asking why.

The stars are why, the moon is why, the sun beating down hot upon your shoulders is why. The sweat, and salt and tears and sex and whisky and love is why.

Give it up.

You are why.

If that doesn’t satisfy, knock on someone else’s door. We’re all just suckers getting by.

Anyone who has been hit in the face with a poem knows it comes at you like a left hook, and if you don’t have the time or ask, “Can you be softer?” It will laugh, spit beer in your face and look for the next poet.

You cannot be picky, just as you cannot ask a poem to come back when you have time.

If it comes at three am, you must drag your ass from rest, no matter how tired you may be and slave to the words.

Poetry is whimsical, unprecedented, it cannot be relied on.

You cannot always know what is means, or if it is for you.

You must just write like a mad woman, as fast as you can, before you run out of paper, and then you must write on your own skin, the table—whatever you can.

You must find it in the wine, in the beautiful men, the whisky, the stars.

You must get it out anyway you can.

To alter poetry, to doubt from useless opinions of sheep, to conform to the taste of society—is a crime to the words.

Do the words well. Just write them—that’s all you’re good for.

Never think that the sun shines from your ass—you are simply a word mule.

Do not alter your poems—say no.

Take them elsewhere, keep them in your leather bound journal, in your heart.

Keep the words as they are and give them to the world raw—poetry isn’t about sugar coating.

Do not ever alter your truth.

Do not ever bend for people, do not bend for getting more hits on your work.

And if you can self publish, do the time—fill your car with boxes of books, a sleeping bag, a petro burner and distribute your own art into this world.

Publishers and distributers will give you fuck all for your words.

J.R. Tolken is probably the only person whose gotten rich off writing.

Maybe the woman who wrote Fifty Shades of grey—but it was shit. We just read it because we were so impressed someone wasn’t ashamed to talk about sex.

Publishers will write you a cheque for a thousand bucks, give you two dollars a book on the back end, get rich and laugh as they sit beside their silicone wives, in leopard print Speedos, smoking American cigarettes while you slave for pennies.

“Typists don’t get tips.” ~ Bukwoski

We’re richer than them, you and I—but happiness doesn’t pay the bills, fill the belly.

Don’t ever sell out—don’t ever say yes to money and no to your truth.

Say yes to money if it aligns with your truth—or else it’s a waste.

I might not know everything but I do know that authenticity sells, I promise you that.

If your authenticity is shit—it might not sell, but it’s not the authenticity, it’s you.

And when you do get paid, and write for others—write for yourself.

Don’t ever stop writing for yourself and don’t ever force it.

If you write for the world, then your worrying too much about what happens after you do the work—it will come out all wrong.

Your job as a poet is to simply write, as soon as it is released in the world—your job is done.

People will personalize your words, experience them differently—the second half isn’t about you, it’s about them.

So let go.

Create, Create, Create.

All the truth, all the fucking time.

Our ocean if full of crap, our air is full of crap, our food is full of crap, the news is full of crap—I don’t want to write or read or hear or see crap.

Aspartame isn’t good for us, no matter if the FDA says it is—and I refuse to write buttered up Kool-Aid so our world can feel comfortable.

It’s a waste of the words.

Poetry exists to pour from our finger tips straight to the minds of this world, without any red tape or hoops to jump through.

She is the simplest, and most confusing form of writing, breaking grammar norms and rules and dancing how she wishes.

If our voices give us poetry, we must drown in it.

“I can’t see any future in poetry, I see it as a house of snobs who pretend at delicacy and insight, who continue to dole it out in a diluted form without any roots in reality, job, gamble, light or love. This is has been and will continue to be.” ~ Bukowski, Letters


This piece was inspired by this one of the greats—check out the original below! 


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Author: Janne Robinson

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: courtesy of the author 



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