I met the place where art and life converge and began to feel—not just intellectually consider—the potential burn poetry could bring to a person’s entirety, psyche included. This “foreign” poetry was about living, conceiving, and feeling in invigorating and consciousness-inducing ways with words that wreaked havoc on my drive for first-world securities and manufactured defenses against mortality. Only upon those introductions did I begin to understand just how nationalistic and provincial my formal poetry perch had been. I began to hunger. I’m still starving. I worry about the diets of my fellow poets and students now, too.
Stop giving a shit that other poets aren’t writing poems the way you prefer and are more popular for it (unless they’re shitting on you and others in the process; then feel free to call attention to their abuse). Attention will not make you a great poet. Whitman, Dickinson, and Stein knew obscurity well. Also notice how value is often closely aligned and spoken of in terms of capitalist rhetoric. Avoid the pitfalls of shooting for “most popular poet” vis-à-vis most votes for and “best of” lists. We’re not in high school anymore.
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.