2023-02-23: east on the i-44

yesterday, another poem. i've been lucky lately in that a lot of what i've been writing has arrived fairly quickly, taking its shape within a day or so and finished soon after. i've worked at the other extreme, too, starting a poem in 2000 and finally finishing it in 2020. nothing will match the relief of finishing something like that, except, almost, the happiness of finishing something almost immediately.

i was reading a zine and a couple of the poems jumped out at me: the title of one, an image in another. and something in them echoed with my lifelong desire to take a roadtrip across america to visit old friends, the end result becoming entirely its own thing.

when i was younger i was convinced i needed to write a lot, certain that the road to better writing was through putting things down and keeping the best. nobody tells you that it's possible to create bad writing forever, that if you're not critical, looking at what works and doesn't, you won't actually grow at all. if i had a time machine i'd go back to 1995 and tell my younger self that it's more important to read: lit mags and collections and chapbooks and zines and whatever you can get your hands on, because you never know where inspiration might strike, and reading good poetry ultimately helps hone your own sense of taste.

(to be honest, reading bad poetry from time to time also helps, a reminder of what not to do.)

what's working? what isn't? why do I like this? — if you can't answer these, how can you hope to write something good yourself?

anyway, i'd never read the poet in that zine before. different countries and geographies and circles and all that. but i was happy not just to read the poems, but that they ended up prompting a poem from me, too.