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  • October 18th, 2010 | 11:35 AM
What does it mean to be a poet?

In keeping with finally claiming my poet's hat, I've been thinking about what it means to be a poet. I'm going to try and spend a few days thinking out loud about this idea and I hope you'll think along with me.

On one hand I think that being a poet is as simple as what makes a writer: a writer writes and a poet writes poems. But on the other hand I know it is much more complicated than that. I think it's a way of looking at the world around you as well as a way of recording what you see. And it is, of course, how you choose to record it. There are many aspects of being a poet but today I'm just thinking of one side of it all, slowing down so you can pay attention.

I think to be a poet you need to be willing to sit still and be. Later you can sit still and think and ponder one word over the other but there needs to be a willingness to just sit and be. And I have trouble with that. I always feel like I need to be racing off to do one thing or another (because I usually do need to be heading off to do one thing or the other) and I short-cut my way through too much of my life.

When I wrote my father poems last April for National Poetry Month I didn't try to do them in the middle of my busy day. I did them at night, the last thing before bed. My brain was full and tired. I sat on the couch, my laptop on my lap, and thought back over my childhood, forcing myself to remember as much as I could. Then I would pick an age and a scene and I just wrote. The poems came quickly, probably because they have been festering all my life. But I also think it was because I spent some quiet time before trying to write, time where I let myself just be.

If this is what I need to be a poet why is it so hard to give that gift of quiet time to myself?

I don't know the answer to that. But perhaps, like the acceptance of myself as a poet, it is enough for me to know that is something I need. That it is part of my job description. The trick, I suppose, is how to find those quiet times in the midst of our crazy days.

So what about you? What does it mean to you to be a poet (whether or not you are one?)





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There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 4 comments — Leave comment )
jeannineatkins
October 18th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, the slow and quiet is what feels so necessary to me. This is so out of what's considered good in our culture -- which may be one reason you fight it? And sometimes it feels peaceful... and sometimes it's just lonely or angsty. And one has to move through that.

It's hard. But getting the words right after the long time, well, I'm addicted.

Susan, can't wait for those real hugs soon!
susanwrites
October 19th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
You may be right, Jeannnine. At goals group today I talked a bit about this and how my entire life has been racing from one thing to the next, and how I've never quite mastered the art of enjoying the journey. One would think I've done much, experienced much, but of late I realize the racing is all in my head. I really want to make the effort to slow down because going fast isn't getting me anywhere I want to go.

I can't wait for those real hugs too!
onegrapeshy
October 18th, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC)
I am not a poet, but I am amazed by people who are.
susanwrites
October 19th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
I am amazed by all of us word workers!
( 4 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice

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