I’ve been struggling with poetry lately. I feel that mine is too cerebral, I feel I make people work too hard. When I try to open the access, I lose something along the way, and I’m not quite too sure what it is. All that I seem left with is ‘wry.’ Twists and turns of phrase, word play, gives a feeling of wryness, but naught else.

In short, I feel stuck in a rut, and without inspiration, or direction. I am finding it hard to go anywhere new, because I am focused on where I’ve been. The anthropologist in me [the person who is interested in things people are interested in] does not know where to go next.

Here is where you come in.

I think if I get feedback from people, or rules to follow, what not to do, what new to try, et cetera, I might get my head around this writer’s apathy. In short, I’m asking for advice, and assignments.

I don’t pretend toward any type of writing talent, but I know I can do better than what I do currently. My best is all I ask of me. But, I’m not sure I can do my best without y’all.

6 thoughts on “Rut

  1. thanks for all the advice y’all. ’tis quite chock full of wisdom.

    ron, i’ve been listening to alot of J5 lately, the others i will look into.

    B?rd, call me either, i answer to both in the really real world.

    Muffin Fool, ach! where do you find ‘em!

  2. You might be tiring of the form; you might wanna try a short story, a one-​act, literary journalism, who knows. Poetry might not be yr bowl of cherries. If that’s not the case, as you’d not unreasonably argue, then I’d suggest just trying to widen yr range of everyday observation: watch & listen and then contemplate & reimagine and then finally express. View what you take in under different lights and through different lenses. And that’s all just talking about the external world – there’s a whole interior one for every individual and mining it for creative raw materials can be cathartic. Sources of inspiration are legion, within & without, tangible & intangible, as you well know (you know all of this; I’m just trying to remind you), but inexplicably, we’ll run into ruts like these. Don’t forget there’s always crests that follow these troughs, though the dividing interval varies. (I’ve been in a trough for a looooong while.) Cast a wider net, I guess, is what I’m saying. And when you catch something worth keeping, you can put me wise to less cheesy metaphors.

  3. cerebral is good, don’t lose that.

    there is, i think, a balance that needs to be reached and the fact that you are aware of a self- perceived lack of ‘accessibility’ in your writing is a sign of growth.

    the idea of a “learned” poet is one that makes the effort of writing an endeavor, a grand intellectual task– it makes one feel like there is something to be unlocked in our words.

    you feel like eliot; you feel like pound.

    but, in some ways, it divorces the reader from your effort: they spend more time trying to catalogue allusions and mythological references than listening to your words or visualizing images. your readers (and you?) start to see the transmission of meaning through the dissection as opposed to the experience.

    and so… what’s the solution?

    be specific as opposed to ‘cerebral’: look around you and write down what your senses allow you to write down; at first, care nothing about the technical, the sophisticated.

    try stream of consciousness and drafts of lines and listing words– seize that which is overlooked.

    impress your reader with new ways of looking and feeling and smelling and hearing and tasting a world common to you.

    also, listen to good, real hip- hop: a tribe called quest, de la soul, common sense, jurassic 5, the roots, lauryn hill (unplugged), saul williams, thoughtbreakers, public enemy…

    even in more mainstream b.i.g. and tupac, listening to hip- hop at its core provides access to meter and image and a reality we sometimes want to overlook.

    i love when i dispense advice that i am unable to take.

    good luck.

  4. many good thoughts there. i know the problem you speak of, harvey. i think you need to keep in mind that you are trying to say something, as opposed to trying to write poetry. don’t try to write poetry. we all have preconceived notions of what poetry is, and trying to copy that or reach for it is a bad idea. it’s like trying to make a great record instead of just making the music that is in you. also consider the possibility that, right now, no music is in you.

    some “excercises” you might consider: narrow in on a subject. don’t try to give it meaning, just describe it. let the subject be something mundane or small, like a tea cup or a pencil. try to describe it without using any pronouns. you may find that the result starts out mundane but ends up with a potential for something bigger than itself. this should get your wheels turning.

    a variation of this is to write about a person or relationship without using words like “i” or “you” or “he” or “she” or any other “personal” words.

    finally, pay attention to “ready-​mades” around you. in my neighborhood there is a sign that says “every day buy” in big letters followed by some more info about buying a parking space. look at words in sequence on products and take them out of their context. check out some of the “engrish” websites (japanese products with odd english phrases on them). or write something coherent and run it through an online translation tool, then translate it back to english. you’ll get something kind of messed up. from that you may find three or four words in a sequence that gives you an idea. etc etc etc.

  5. by the way, i keep calling you “harvey” — i think i get it from a username or email address or something, even though your name is Adam. would you prefer i call you Adam?

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