Inspired by Jack Kerouac's writing tips as featured recently on Ruth's blog washed stones, I perversely came up with this piece of light verse...
Advice to a Young Poet
Be influenced by, don’t steal or plagiarize.
In poems on love, don’t adulate the eyes.
Extol some far less obvious body part,
e.g. the toenail. That, my friend, is art!
Eschew the sonnet and the villanelle.
They’re hard to write and much harder to sell.
Instead, go for some freeform kind of stuff.
Even light verse like this is good enough.
Don’t dedicate a poem to a coy
mistress or to a marvellous boy,
a nightingale, a cuckoo or an urn.
It’s all been done before, as you shall learn.
Instead, pen odes to cockroaches or cheese,
or phlegm or feet or fungal growth or fleas.
Just shop around in some poetic Primark
and please forget about that bloody skylark.
Don’t give up booze like Raymond Carver. Try
and drink yourself to death. But when you die,
do it in style like Dylan Thomas, who
had so many women begging for a screw
it became almost a sexual pandemic
among the wives of many an academic
or US prof. or lecturer, or worse —
the concubines of poets of crap verse.
Don’t be tied down by too much punctuation,
and never offer any explanation
as to the meaning of your latest work,
or hint at inner demons that may lurk
within your morbid, melancholy soul.
Just keep folks guessing. If they still cajole
you to reveal your bardic mystery,
invent a glam, romantic history:
how you were orphaned at the age of ten,
abused by nuns, left in an opium den
from dusk till dawn, and how you were reviled
like Baudelaire, De Sade or Oscar Wilde.
So, in conclusion, hear well what I say.
Be enigmatic. Don’t give much away.
Inscrutability, I think you’ll find,
makes you magnetic to the female kind.