Letter to a Younger Poet

Letter to a Younger Poet:

There are no directions to you. You did not come with a manual. A How To book will not help you. All you need, is with you. Inside you. If you desire to. You will pick at your mental scabs. You will make them bleed. You will feel naked in front of the classroom. In front of your family. In front of all of humanity.

All sense of what is proper or acceptable will be thrown out the door. There will be no room for you. You will find yourself utterly alone. There you will find peace. You will share to the bone. Imagine yourself stripping off your flesh to dig deeper and deeper. Into your marrow. Never waiver.

If you ask for guidance be careful what you receive. You will hear people speak of grammar, of cadence, of rhyme. They will speak in parables of dead poets that you will think don’t describe what it means to be human, anymore. So don’t ask. Keep your eyes forward and stay on task.

You are the future. Poetry is defined through you. Through each word you share. Be on point. Make them part of the human experiment. Worthwhile. Worth reading. Worth sharing. Think of your life as if it is ending. Meditate on death. Think of this being the only thing you will ever write. As if there is a gun to your head. And there is. The gun of time. You must acknowledge it before you begin. Bow to it and let it help you defend you right to live.

Speak as if you are the voice of now. The voice of all. Tap into something greater than you. Let “It” guide you. Believe in the stream. Dive into it. The collective unconscious is there. All of life. All of the universe. You can speak for civil rights. For justice. For atoms. For stars. For you are the everything.

Your voice is a wise as Plato. As divine as Buddha and Jesus. Let your truth be known. Write it. Share it. Don’t expect anything in return. Ever. Give it away as if you are shedding old skin or hair. Forgive and forget what you said. There is no lesson here. Only catharsis. Where you are led, only time will tell. When you find the river swim.

For Rilke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_to_a_Young_Poet


  • Annemarie Cooper

    As Dylan sang,” I was so much older then I’m younger than that now”
    The energy- wonderful- but sometimes a bit of analysing other poets’ work is very inspiring, helps me to take risks, maybe taking risks is not something you need to work on at the moment. As I get older I find gaps in my understanding. Reading poetry, philosophy and novels helps with this as well as having conversations with perceptive, compassionate people. I admit I’ve read very little of Rilke and that in translation which is always one step away from the original. Tap into something greater than you, yes if you can, just make sure it’s something of the utmost spiritual authenticity and not the ego playing for an Oscar. Good luck

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