Poems about writing poetry


It seems like, eventually, every poet writes about writing poetry.

One of my favorites is Raymond Carver’s “Reaching”:


He knew he was
in trouble when,
in the middle
of the poem,
he found himself
for his thesaurus
and then Webster’s
in that order.

What writer hasn’t found themselves in just that situation?

Billy Collins, writing more about poetry students than poetry, wrote this in his Introduction to Poetry:

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Isn’t that just like students — so desperate to capture “what it really means,” that they beat a poem to death?

This is my contribution to the vein of poems about poetry.  Just a bit of a drawn out metaphor, really.

As the Oyster Forms the Pearl

As the oyster forms the pearl,
So the poet pens the verse
As balm for the current ache
Born out of the ancient curse.

As the oyster feels compelled
To shellac the sandy grain,
So the poet senses the urge
To transmogrify the pain.

So the pearl grows rich and round
As its luster covers the sand.
So the verse unseen takes form
In its way, designed unplanned.

Sad the pearl that lies unseen
In the depths of the murky sea.
Sad the verse that dies unheard
In the heart clandestinely.