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Mix Tape: Popular Muses

Check out the How a Poem Happens blog. In the latest post, John Drury talks about inspiration. “Yes, I like being ambushed by memory and imagination, and I do what I can to be vulnerable to those surprise attacks.”

As one reviewer bluntly put it, “Bad things happen in Rafael Campo’s poems.” Is it any wonder that a poet who is also a practicing family physician finds inspiration in illness?

Illness is a popular muse. A homeless young woman diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome found solace in quiet New York City Public Library branches. There she began to work on a comic book based on her experiences…and a branch manager noticed.

Rita Dove talks about what makes Ohio fertile ground for good writing. “Ohio does have a way of turning out golden children, doesn’t she?…If I may generalize wildly, I think of Ohioans as people who take stock of where they stand and, like the word Ohio—‘round on the sides and high in the middle’—always weigh both ends against the center.”

Sven Birkerts on writer’s block—and the sheer joy of defeating it: “Writing can’t be planned for or predicted, and when it happens, when the surge begins, it brings a satisfaction like nothing else. There are finer sensualities, sure, and basic emotions that give joy or connection when released, but as far as giving me a sustained sense that this is who I am, this is what I do, a full-fathom immersion in writing is the ultimate verification.”

Samuel Beckett, in a letter, wrote: “I know no more about this play than anyone who manages to read it attentively. I know no more of the characters than what they say, what they do, and what happens to them. I do not know who Godot is.” Maybe that impulse to preserve the mystery, that disinterest in dissecting one’s own creative work, is necessary to create it.

There’s no Beckett doll—yet—but there are plenty more to choose from at this Etsy shop.

Also at Etsy: an accessory for poets who are over formalism…and one for people who are over poets.