Reading books on how to write poetry
intimidates the pen Old Monk dips in ink.
If she doesn’t do iambic pentameter or can’t feel trochee,
if slanted rhyme slides off her line, does she dare it? Also,
she has never signed up for a poetry workshop with Billy Collins
she has no MFA tucked in a file drawer.
But when she hears the mourning dove dare the song
she joins her off-key tune to the dharma.
We encourage people to learn a musical instrument though only the smallest percentile are gifted enough to earn a living at it. We say, and rightly so, that learning to play a piano or sax or cello is a gift that lasts a lifetime. We do the same with art. People dabble all over the place just for personal satisfaction and sharing among friends. Few see their work in galleries. But when it comes to writing, we don’t encourage in quite the same way. I’ve heard people say that it’s useless to write if no one publishes it. Isn’t that like claiming it’s useless to learn a Bach concerto if you never perform in front of an audience. It’s not a waste to end a life with shelves of hand-written journals and stories and poems. Not at all.