Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Guest Blog: How to Write a Poem

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Ariel Gordon

Ariel Gordon is the author of the poetry collection Hump (Palimpsest Press, 2010), for which she was awarded the 2011 Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry / Le Prix Lansdowne du poesie. Her chapbook How to Prepare for Flooding (JackPine Press), a collaboration with designer Julia Michaud, will be launched in this fall. She shares with Open Book readers her poem, “How to Write a Poem.”

Gordon will be reading with Laura Lush at The Woman’s Bookstore on November 3rd. See Open Book’s Events Page for details.

"How to Write a Poem"

1.
Write about what terrifies you but, um, wait until mum or dad is dead to do it. For the family’s sake… 

2.
Take all the punctuation out of your poem

3.
Your lover should be your first reader & your subject, but know this: having good sex is hard. Writing good sex is harder. Believing someone who just had their head between your legs — even if they’re a hardcore critic — impossible.

4.
No one needs your next poem.
(Everyone needs your next goddamn poem.)

5.
If writing rhyming poetry about God from jail, realize you’ve hit the trifecta. Celebrate by centering everything on the hard drive that's not porn.

6.
capital letters are for suckers. seersuckers. sapsuckers.

7.
Also, use the page. Engage the ear. Allude to classical texts, sneak in a few impeccable pop culture references. Break the line. Break a leg.

8.
Have a firm grasp of grammar & syntax but also have something on the side with the fragment. Form should follow content but, hopefully, not breathing heavily.

9.
Put the punctuation back in.

10.
Don’t write poems about writing poems.
Oh. Shit.

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