Most of us write with at least one poet always on our minds. Some of us have numerous poetic "ghosts" flitting around us as we hammer away at our work. Whether it's Shakespeare, Tupac, Diane (or Dr.) Seuss, some of the voices in our heads aren't our own. Not wholly anyway.
It's a kind of cognitive alchemy where we read our favorite poets, the words take up a living space in our imaginations and they become part of us, where, in doing so, they change into something new altogether.
This process of mingling minds is what poetry's all about, really. It's a soul to soul contact sport. And here's the really interesting thing about it: it doesn't matter who you are, or where your work is presented, if you do a good enough job as an artist, your words will pitch a tent in someone's mind, potentially a lot of someones.
So think carefully about what you're offering. If your poems rub people rawly, this can be a very good thing for sparking thought. But if your poems leave people with a sick or miserable feeling, they'll avoid them in the future, unless they are one of the rare types who wants to feel miserable.
I'm not saying you have to write happy things all the time; I'm saying: be aware that poems are like songs. They infect people. They're sticky.
A great poem sticks even more than a great song. Even a single line such as : "Rage against the dying of the light" or "To be or not to be" can ring for centuries.
The voices of poets in your head aren't trying to tell you how to write. They're trying to tell you why we write. If you remember that, you'll make better poems.
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