Hate What You Write

Whether we know exactly what our poetic statements are right now, or we haven’t quite developed them yet, we all have things we don’t believe in as poets: things we hate, things we’ve sworn off, things we’ve told ourselves will never surface in our poetry. When you write your next poem, contradict yourself/ your ideas about what poetry is/should be, or more specifically, what your poetry is/ should be. Purposely write in something that you don’t like (whether it be a line, punctuation, formatting, an image, or even a whole poem). The catch: upon revision, don’t delete what you hate. Make it work within the poem. Surprise yourself. If the poem wants to get rid of whatever it is, transform the poem so it can stay.

Share your poem when you’re ready. Read it over and over again, even if you hate it. Read it because you hate it. Read it and revise it until you don’t hate it. Through this reading and revision, you hopefully will have spent a lot of time considering why you don’t believe in what you believe in, as well as thinking about how we can make things we hate work. Maybe we can even come to understand why several of the poets in Lyric Postmodernisms seemed to contradict themselves. Is there an underlying complexity that we can only discover through forcing ourselves to write a contradiction? Share what you find.

One Reply to “Hate What You Write”

  1. Your comment here about re-reading things and continuing to look at them even though you hate them (and even, perhaps, because you hate them) is so germane to my world right now. I’m trying to get a head start on revising poems from earlier in the semester so I don’t burn myself out a week before our portfolio is due, but I’m having the hardest time getting started. I am well-versed with the sensation of simultaneously writing & thinking, “this is garbage. I am writing garbage,” all the while continuing to type without making any changes. I hate looking at old pieces, even though it is so central to this process, and the Giant Procrastination Monster is really biting me hard at the moment. Which, of course, means that this prompt is something I definitely need to do. Your concept of writing something you hate & not letting yourself delete it upon further drafts is fascinating. It’s a loophole I would have happily taken, so both thank you and damn you for closing it. I’ll have to give this a try.

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