For Poetry Friday today, I am linking to a poem by Charles Bukowski that, when I first read it about eight years ago, forced me into as close to a meditative state as I think I’ve ever been in my adult life.
Here are a few lines and link to the poem, with a few more thoughts from me below.
so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
Click the link and read the full Bukowski poem before continuing.
So, this poem really got to me. I read it and re-read it and re-read it. I hand-typed it out of the book (sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way), printed it, cropped it down to a thin strip, and pasted it on my computer monitor. I wrote nothing. I just kept reading that poem again and again, and thinking.
Then I started reading through my poetry file. That was a bad idea initially. It was filled with half-witted ideas and half-assed drafts that suddenly seemed unrecognizable to me. But there were some nuggets of truth in that file, too. Buried alive beneath 60 pages of someone else’s forced rhymes, bad puns, and cutesy stories was … me. The kindofnice-but-kindofanasshole me. The drippingwithsarcasm me. The almostcertainlydrunkwhenIwrotethis me. But even where I crossed the line into possible inappropriateness in terms of topic or language, I maintained a silliness that somehow still seemed to work for stuff intended for kids.
So that was it for me. I harvested what I could, moved the rest to a scrap file, and moved on with a new confidence that I was doing what I wanted to do in the way that I wanted to do it.
I still read that poem from time to time, but it no longer smarts the way it once did. And I’m no longer mad at Charles Bukowski, either, even though he is kindofanasshole.
Thanks to Karissa at The Iris Chronicles for hosting Poetry Friday this week.