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Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Becoming a Better Poet…

I don’t know too many poets including myself, who as they discover a proclivity for the written word don’t let their mind take to flights of fancy because they feel as though their writing is the best that has ever graced the planet. Like no one else since the beginning of human civilization has ever crafted together words to describe the indescribable…wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Whether we choose to realize it or not, folks have been writing about the same subject matter for several millennia and because we sometimes fail to acknowledge this, some of the best poetry one could ever read never gets read. Which brings me to an important detail all poets should heed…read read READ!!!

Not just your own work but the works of others as well…maybe in exploring the inked thoughts of those who precede US, one can uncover the mystery that makes writers like Pablo Neruda or Nikki Giovanni papyrus immortals. I know reading other writers might be hard to do especially when you’ve just written a masterpiece that puts Langston Hughes’ catalog to shame, but trust me it works.

See my LOVE affair with poetry began not with the lines of Sappho but with the lyrics of Rakim and the songwriting of Gamble & Huff; for it was rhythmic poetry that first seduced my mind. Once the love affair with palabras intensified I was able to move on to the Gwendolyn Bennett’s and Kahlil Gibran’s of the world, but when I first started writing poetry, I could see a lot of the mistakes I was making in my own work because of reading others.

You know the usual suspects…repeating the same word 50 different times in one piece, using the hell out of conjunctions (particularly as, but, for, of, or, that, etc.), switching from an active voice to a passive voice, misspelling, and my favorite…mixing up homonyms and homophones.

While grammatical errors can be fixed with proofreading and practice, one element that’s difficult to rectify is style. Writing styles that tend to leave an impact with me are those that show a reader instead of telling them. What does this mean? Simply paint a picture with your words that the mind’s eye has never seen. We all know what trees are and what grass is and what the air does, but if you can wrap metaphoric euphoria around these every day occurrences and make them seem new, then you’re one step closer to becoming the poet you dream you can be.

As Audre Lorde once said, There are no new ideas there are only new ways of making them felt.

I don’t know about you, but what I enjoy is when people FEEL what I write. Not FEEL it because they know me but because it touched a place that is familiar yet fallible. For their genuine responses have come to symbolize connectivity to something that is larger than myself.

I realize not every poet seeks to become a household name…for some their breathings upon the page represent a healing of the spirit and they share in an attempt to inspire others to heal themselves as well. I like to think one day I can nestle myself firmly into this category…but until that time the learning continues…

Thursday, May 6, 2010

They Will Never Know

This is a piece that a fellow poet named Chellebell and I did a couple of weeks ago...

© 2010 chellebell/dasuntoucha

Saturday, May 1, 2010

To Post Or Not To Post...

…is the question that’s been crossing my mind a lot these days.

I’ve been writing under the name Dasuntoucha for about 4 years now and have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with some truly talented and motivated poets, largely thru on-line writing groups and poetry boards. Recently at one of my favorite poetry spots, there was some drama with the ownership that prompted me to delete my account because quite frankly, I felt the way that the situation was being handled was totally unprofessional and underhanded. While an owner of any given board or site has the right to do what they see fit, a member has a right to do what they feel is in their best interest. I don’t harbor any ill will toward anyone involved, but I made a personal vow back in 2007 not to solicit any writing community where the ownership is in any way, shape, or form is deceitful or disrespectful to those who help facilitate the day to day operations, because 9 times out of 10 it is their commitment that ensures writers keep coming back.

Even though some of my work has been published in a few literary journals and poetic anthologies, it is the joy of being able to read and share with others, whether novice or pro, that I have come to cherish. I guess I’m like that playground basketball player that should be playing in the pros but laces up his shoes and plays not for fortune or fame but for the sheer LOVE of the game. It’s picking the right court to scribe on that makes all the difference.

And in that regard I have been blessed.

I started out here with an outstanding ensemble of writers when Tom’s space was the place to be, then moved on to this community where I encountered some of the best undiscovered writers I’ve ever read, while also witnessing the pain one person’s maniacal ego can cause. But luckily, a large amount of the talent from that board moved here to what I consider my TRUE poetic home. It was only out of searching for other writing spots to expand my horizons that I was able to find this place which was as advertised, the hottest, realest, most active black poetry spot on the web. Here I made connections with what I would like to consider life-long writing comrades.

I will never forget the relationships I forged with poets and writers from these various boards…they are some truly gifted people driven not by ego but an unadulterated LOVE of words.

As we know, the writing life can be a solitary endeavor, but at least on-line if you choose to, you can post with crew…just choose where you post wisely.