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 earning a prophet's wage

"People clot below flags..."

I am sure I will quote that the rest of my life.

I do not understand "the third man in..."

I must confess something to you.

I do not "get it" when it comes to poetry. I did not major in English in school, but among my non-majors courses, that segment in poetry and then major british writers were some of the most influential for me. I really liked it. Esp. the poetry. But I found that I constantly needed a tour guide to get past the surface (which more often than not was just confusion).

I wrote a poem a few years ago. I was subbing at a local high school for an English teacher. The class was made up mostly of teen moms and a few geniuses who were in an alt ed program on a self-pace. The assignment that day, for Sophomores I think, was to write a poem. There was a section in the text giving instructions.

I had admired poetry for some time, but was almost not invested at all. (part of my confession) Yet here I was handing out the assignment to the class and I thought I should participate if I was going to make others do it too.

Sadly, I have lost the first half of it. I worked hard on it. I think it had some flair and some unique and intriguing use of the language in places. I popped "p's" in one line and fluffed "F's" in another. And I told the story of a sidewalk on a campus mall with a flag pole centered amid benches and flowers etc. The story was part autobiographical with crumbling concrete in some segments, roots buckling other sections, grafiti in some sections, serving but being neglected etc.

I did not master the project even for a minute, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and grew in appreciation.

Don't know why I am telling you this. You are not a poet's priest. But I enjoy the blog, and feel a bit convicted to seek more mastery. I wonder if you would point me in a good direction.




Thanks for the kind words. Poetry is both self-discovery and self-expression, and thanks to Walt Whitman, is no longer confined to the few dozen formal styles that defined it for centuries. I have no formal training in verse. I've learned to write by reading the poets who speak to me.

So my "advice"... dare i call it that... would be to find the writers you enjoy. Those whose words resonate with you. I actually began by trying to write short stories, but every story I began decided to come out as a poem.

Hope this all helps.

PS - "third man in" is actually a hockey reference. When two players are in a fistfight, it is a penalty to be the "third man" into the fight, escalating it into a brawl.

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