amreading Poems writer's inspiration

He could not stop writing poems

But no matter how many babies he delivered,

no matter how many sick people he cured,

Willie could not stop writing poems.

A River of Words is a short, illustrated book about the life of Dr. William Carlos Williams.

His life, as both doctor and poet is inspirational.

I keep this book close by.

You should too.

From: A River of Words

Written by: Jen Bryant

Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet

amreading Poems writer's inspiration

Poet Donald Hall in one question


I would like to begin by asking how you started. How did you become a writer? What was the first thing that you ever wrote and when?


Everything important always begins from something trivial. When I was about twelve I loved horror movies. I used to go down to New Haven from my suburb and watch films like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Wolf Man Meets Abbott and Costello. So the boy next door said, Well, if you like that stuff, you’ve got to read Edgar Allan Poe. I had never heard of Edgar Allan Poe, but when I read him I fell in love. I wanted to grow up and be Edgar Allan Poe. The first poem that I wrote doesn’t really sound like Poe, but it’s morbid enough. Of course I have friends who say it’s the best thing I ever did: “Have you ever thought / Of the nearness of death to you? / It reeks through each corner, / It shrieks through the night, / It follows you through the day / Until that moment when, / In monotones loud, / Death calls your name. / Then, then, comes the end of all.” The end of Hall, maybe. That started me writing poems and stories. For a couple of years I wrote them in a desultory fashion because I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a great actor or a great poet.

Then when I was fourteen I had a conversation at a Boy Scout meeting with a fellow who seemed ancient to me; he was sixteen. I was bragging and told him that I had written a poem during study hall at high school that day. He asked—I can see him standing there—You write poems? and I said, Yes, do you? and he said, in the most solemn voice imaginable, It is my profession. He had just quit high school to devote himself to writing poetry full time! I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. It was like that scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Clyde says, We rob banks. Poetry is like robbing banks. It turned out that my friend knew some eighteen-year-old Yale freshmen, sophisticated about literature, and so at the age of fourteen I hung around Yale students who talked about T. S. Eliot. I saved up my allowance and bought the little blue, cloth-covered collected Eliot for two dollars and fifty cents and I was off. I decided that I would be a poet for the rest of my life and started by working at poems for an hour or two every day after school. I never stopped.

One question in and I already have to recommend the rest of this interview.

From: The Paris Review Issue 120, Fall 1991

Interview by: Peter A. Stitt

amreading Football/Soccer writer's inspiration

Soccer in Random Places: The Dangerous Book for Boys and the joy of practice

With libraries and bookstores closed I’ve returned to my own shelves. During a session of pull-any-book-off-the-shelf and read game, I stumbled on this excerpt from The Dangerous Book for Boys.

Titled: The Rules of Soccer, it reminded me of the joys of practice.

Soccer is the example, but the idea of practice, daily practice, applies to any discipline:

It’s an old, old phrase, but “practice makes perfect” is as true today as it was hundreds of years ago. Natural-born skill is all very well, but it will only take you so far against someone who has practiced every day at something he loves.

Further reading:

How I practice at what I do – by Tyler Cowen

People who have not yet succeeded but maybe they will – by henryeoliver

Learn Like an Athlete – by David Perell

amreading Uncategorized

Marginalia Yo

I dig the marginalia in my used copy of A Moveable Feast as much as the original text. It makes me think of the books history, of the previous owner.

Was he or she a grad student? An aspiring writer? A college freshman trying to pass Literature 1?

amreading Poems

New Years Walt Whitman Special: Great are the Myths pt.11

Great is language….it is the mightiest of sciences,

It is the fulness and color and form and diversity of the

earth….and of men and women….and of all

qualities and processes;

It is greater than wealth….it is greater than buildings or

ships or religions or paintings or music.

Let Walt Whitman bring in 2020.

Happy New Year!

From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pgs.158

amreading Poems

Walt Whitman: Great are the Myths pt.10

The truth in man is no dictum….it is vital as eyesight,

If there be any soul there is truth….if there be man or

woman there is truth….If there be physical or

moral there is truth,

If there be equilibrium or volition there is truth…..if

there be things at all upon the earth there is truth.

O truth of the earth! O truth of things! I am determined

to press the whole way toward you,

Sound your voice! I scale mountains or dive in the sea

after you.

Walt Whitman often speaks of balance in his poems by calling out life’s opposite forces.

If there be man or woman there is truth

If there be physical or moral

I scale mountains or dive in the sea

Each example is an opposite. Each noun or verb needs the other to exist.

From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pgs.158

amreading Poems

Walt Whitman: Great are the Myths pt.9

Great is the greatest nation..the nation of clusters of

equal nations.

Great is the earth, and the way it became what it is,

Do you imagine it is stopped at this?….and the increase


Understand then that it goes as far onward from this as

this is from the times when it lay in covering waters

and gases.

Great is the quality of truth in man,

The quality of truth in man supports itself through all


It is inevitably in the man….He and it are in love, and

never leave each other.

A bit about Whitman the man:

Whitman was a Brooklyn native. He was born in West Hills, Huntington Township, New York, but his father moved the family to Brooklyn in search of building work.

His background is a familiar one to writers of all generations.

He held down various day jobs – office boy, teacher, printer, freelance journalist.

He worked for a variety of papers in New York City – the Aurora and Evening Tattler (How could you not read a paper named the Evening Tattler?) among them. He even ran a housebuilding business.

Throughout this time though he was writing, publishing poems, literary prose and sketches.


From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pgs.157,158

and Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose (Library of America) pgs. 1347,1348

amreading Poems

Walt Whitman: Great are the Myths pt.8

Wealth with the flush hand and fine clothes and


But then the soul’s wealth-which is candor and

knowledge and pride and enfolding love:

Who goes for men and women showing poverty richer

than wealth?

Expression of what is written or said forget

not that silence is also expressive,

That anguish as hot as the hottest and contempt as cold as

the coldest may be without words,

That the true adoration is likewise without words and

without kneeling.

Walt Whitman for Monday…

From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pg.157

amreading Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Tag or Gesture Drawing?

It’s difficult to tell the difference.

Both practices are rapid movements of the pen, marker or pencil, attempting to capture a form quickly.

A tag though is made to be seen. It’s intent is to pay homage to the creator.

Gesture drawing is an exercise. Their intent is to loosen up the artist, and then hit the wastebasket.

It is only action, the gesture, that you are trying to respond to here, not the details of the structure. You must discover – and feel – that the gesture is dynamic, moving, not static. Gesture has no precise edges, no exact shape, no jelled form. The forms are in the act of changing. Gesture is movement in space.

The Natural Way to Draw. Kimon, Nicolaides, pg 15

A reminder: Don’t fret. It’s fine to go through reams of paper:

Feel free to use a great deal of paper and do not ever worry about ‘spoiling’ it – that is one of our reasons for using cheap paper. I notice that students working at their best, thinking only of the gesture and not of making pictures, often throw their drawings into the trash-can without even looking at them. A few should be kept and dated as a record of your progress, but the rest may be tossed aside as carelessly as yesterday’s newspaper. Results are best when they come from the right kind of un-self-conscious effort.

The Natural Way to Draw. Kimon, Nicolaides, pg 18
amreading Poems

Thanksgiving Day Bonus – Walt Whitman: Great are the Myths pt.7

Day fullblown and splendid….day of the immense sun,

and action and ambition and laughter,

The night follows close, with millions of suns, and sleep

and restoring darkness.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And thanks for reading!

From: Leaves of Grass 150th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics), pg.157