If we could offer you only one poem for the future, this poem would be it:
The long term benefits of poetry have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of our advice has no basis more reliable than our own meandering experience…We will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your language; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your language until everybody speaks Esperanto. But trust us, in a dozen years you’ll listen to tapes of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really spoke….You’re not as understandable as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the things you’ve written; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 5.30am on some idle Wednesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you.
Experiment, even if the words are pointing pointless, in the end it will all come together.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s poems, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Use instruments while reading.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind… The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell us how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
Delete your best sentences, you will always think of better ones and if you don’t, don’t bother, know that every line springs out of your heart, your bones, your spine.
Don’t feel guilty if you ‘re in front of a page and you don’t know what you want to write exactly…the most interesting people we know didn’t know at 42 what they wanted with their writings, some of the most interesting 60 year olds we know, still don’t.
Maybe you’ll publish, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll win prices, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll win the Nobel price at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th poetry anniversary…Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your punctuation, use it every way you can…Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
Remember the paper is more than a paper, it can fly funny wrapped up as a ball.
Read poetry courses, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read 64 pages long essays, they will only make you feel stupid.
Get to know your country’s poetry history, you never know when your country stops being a country.
Understand that poetry friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in writing form and style because the older you get, the more you need the styles you knew when you were young.
Live in Amsterdam once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Watou once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths, books will be more difficult to sell, publishers will be stubborn, you too will get old fashioned, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young books were sold pretty well, publishers were noble and readers respected their authors. Respect your readers.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out. Don’t mess too much with your handwriting.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and it for more than it’s worth.
But trust us on the poetry…
© Sylvie Marie & David Troch
– Inspired by Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) – Baz Luhrman