Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Hermann Hesse said somewhere that writing a single poem, however bad that poem might be, is infinitely more valuable than reading all of the great poems of the world. I think he is right. An ecstatic Walt Whitman says something similar.

Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much?
Have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess

the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun,

(there are millions of suns left),
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand,

nor look through the eyes of the dead,
nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either,

nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

To get a sense of poetry making in action, we can now check out a new website called Quick Muse, where we can watch poets at work in real time. It's kind of like Big Brother but with more content and less shouting. Here's what they say about themselves.

QuickMuse is a cutting contest, a linguistic jam session, a series of on-the-fly compositions in which some great poets riff away on a randomly picked subject. It's an experiment, QuickMuse, to see if first thoughts are indeed the best ones. We're not entirely sure about this, but we suspect QuickMuse will bring readers closer to the moment of composition than they have ever been before.

Thanks to Lynn Reynolds for pointing this site out to me. Inspired, by QuickMuse, Lynn is planning to write a Psychology essay online, so that we can follow the evolution of the essay in real time. This promises to be an enormously valuable resource for student writers. I'll talk more about this project when we have more details.