Poetry News

The Week We Felt the Fear and Did It Anyway

By Harriet Staff

It takes mad courage to write poetry. It takes even more courage to present one’s poetry to the public. It even takes courage to read poetry.

This week, we cowboyed up, put on our big-girl panties, and dove like Felix Bumgartners of the soul into the chilling, thrilling, gut-spilling world of the written word. This involved putting into perspective some long-held fears.

Fear of losing our soul. We took it off when we were doing the dishes and we’re positive it’s around here somewhere. However, inspired by an in-depth soul-search with Laura Solomon, we’ve decided to forget about authenticity for a spell and focus on truth instead.

Fear of criticism. There’s a word for those who genuinely don’t care what others think of them – they’re called psychos. If Matthew Dickman can survive this brutal roasting from G.M. Palmer, we can handle the occasional shade thrown our way.

Fear of Autocorrection. Erin Moure taught us to stop worrying and love overriding our spell-check function.

Claustrophobia. As the world gravitates rapidly away from book-length exegeses and toward pithy Tweets, critics with a lot to say might feel ever more boxed in. But the Oulipians had a point about constraints, and we do enjoy the occasional microreview.

Fear of fire. Angela Veronica Wong’s How to Survive a Hotel Fire isn’t a how-to book, but Rumpus turned us on to it, and we like it. If we’re ever reading it in a hotel room and a fire breaks out, and we have enough time to grab one possession . . . we might take the laptop instead. But we like it.

Social anxiety. The inimitable Chuck Wendig taught us how to schmooze at writers' conferences without presenting as crazy-pants assholes.

Fear of sex. Bad sex is scary. Bad sex poems can be even worse. But now that Austen Saunders has turned us on to John Wilmot’s blue material, even Keats is getting us worked up.

Fear of dead poets. Over the next week or so, this one’s only getting worse.

Originally Published: October 19th, 2012