Unsolicited advice to aspiring poets.
1 Do you use the word ‘yonder’ in daily conversation? Even once? No? Then don’t use it in your poems. Which takes us to point #2
2. Don’t try and find a word that rhymes with it. You’ll only come up with ‘wonder’, unless you want to use ‘blunder’, ‘thunder’, ‘torn asunder’. I thought not.
3. Don’t rhyme if you have to cut, colour, spit and polish the idea in the line to fit the rhyming word in.
4. Show, don’t tell. Please
‘Electric electricity’ (!!). Yes
5. Use “deafening silence” only if the silence is deafening. Don’t use it for a quiet night. Or a pleasant enough poem.
6. Shards, angst, the depths of your shattered soul — all very nice. But if you are still writing this when you are 23 and are not sitting in a padded cell or, at the very least, getting therapy, then stop. Grow up. There’s a reason it’s called adolescent angst.
7. Use a semi-colon. It speaks volumes. Also of your work.
8. Keep it simple. Even the complicated stuff.
9. Read Jeet Thayil.
10. Read, edit, read, edit, read, edit. Take at least a week to make it right. You may love your first draft but slowly you will come to realise that there is much more that can be done, some more that can be taken away.
And in the ‘weird things keep happening to me’ department.
Is anyone else getting email that is from “buddisttrains”? What the hell is that? I’ve got something from them twice this week.
Suddenly, there’s almost no money in my bank.
I can’t find a piece that I had done on Thayil for Daily News and Analysis. He has been my favourite living Indian poet for a while now.
Is it just me? Or is that word verification thingamejig throwing up real words that are misspelt these days? In the last four days I have – poleez, jinzeng, tranter (not a real word but sounds like one) and djigkle. Yes, I think about these things.