The Aftermath: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Network with other poets, including fans of Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog.
Robert Lee Brewer
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby Robert Lee Brewer » Thu May 22, 2008 7:30 am

Those are all great reasons, MaryLee.

Why I started writing poetry: To impress a girl. And I did. And then she seemed to think it was something I did often; that is, write poems. So I started to writing poetry to continue impressing the girl. Eventually, the girl lost interest in me, but my affair with poetry burned on.

Why I write poetry today: The main reason is that I can't stop myself from writing poetry. As mentioned in an earlier answer, I've written more than 10,000 poems already in this lifetime--and they're all hidden away in Composition Notebooks. Even this morning, I started composing a poem in my head in the shower, rushed for a pen with my towel still wrapped around me, and started scribbling it out. Then, I continued playing with the poem on my way into work this morning. That's what I do--I just can't help myself.

Since the beginning of 2006, I've started submitting my poetry. That's not something I do as easily. In fact, I can be quite a slacker when it comes to submissions.

MaryLee
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby MaryLee » Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 am

Hi again, Robert,
I belong to an online writing group. We give each other poetry challenges (we also used your challenges for the entire month of April) and critique each others' work weekly. We all have different poetry writing styles. Do you have a few helpful suggestions for critiquing a person's work? (Or my own work, for that matter!) What are the most important things to look for? Thank you for any ideas.

Robert Lee Brewer
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby Robert Lee Brewer » Thu May 22, 2008 7:46 am

Well, one trick is to read the work out loud. That can tell you a lot about the rhythm of a poem.

Then, there are lots of other things you can look for, from spelling and punctuation mistakes to the use of "to be" and the word "it" (both should be avoided most of the time).

With all poems, it's probably helpful to ask, "Why?"

That is, why is this poem relevant? What is its purpose in the world?

The answer could be, "because it makes me laugh," or, "because it tackles global warming." Or you might find yourself scratching your head and thinking, "Hmm... maybe I could do better--or something entirely different."

IleanaCarmina
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby IleanaCarmina » Thu May 22, 2008 7:51 am

Robert! Wow, I knew you were busy, but holy goodness! My right eye is twitching in unworthiness. You're simultaneously inspiring and daunting. Now I appreciate even more how much you've put into the PAD and want to add another, very heartfelt thank you!

One question: I am always on the verge of buying the Writers Market book, and then I know that another is being released so I hold out, and then never get it. This year, I was thinking of just subscribing to WM online so I get something going. But for only another $20 I can get the physical book, too. Could you tell us if the hardcopy has articles etc. that are not available online? Or does the subscription get you everything in the book plus all the updates and internet snazziness?

Robert Lee Brewer
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby Robert Lee Brewer » Thu May 22, 2008 8:06 am

The book does have articles that the Web site does not. Also, just checked out Amazon, and you can order a copy there for only $31.49 with free shipping apparently. Other places may also offer such discounts.

Now, that's a deal and a half.

If you want to hold out, the 2009 edition is due in bookstores in late-June, early-July.

Best,

Robert

birdee
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby birdee » Thu May 22, 2008 8:48 am

Hi Robert, My question I believe is sort of answered in the Poet's Market, by each individual publication's preference, but I'm still confused. If I submit a poem to a publication, do I have to wait until I hear from them before I send to another. In other words, is it ok to send the same poem to more than one publication at a time. Is this a dumb question? Hope not. Thanks for your help and for doing this today. - Carol

Mik
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby Mik » Thu May 22, 2008 8:50 am

Hi Robert, I'm back again and I have a another question. I afraid this is going to show my ignorance so I apologize in advance. I know poetry is very forgiving or flexible or I'm not sure what the word is I'm looking for but unless you are writing a poem with a very specific structure it seems like you can write almost anything and call it poetry. For example, yesterdays prompt about the family connection - your poem of your conversation with your boys was wonderful - I loved it because I can relate to it having two young daughters and I've had similar conversations. (I even modeled my poem after yours because I loved how our conversation ended.) However, in the back of my mind was the question "This is poetry?" What makes this poetry?" Can you explain this to me? I find I tend to lean toward writing more structured poetry (Haiku, Limerick, whatever) and this kind of writing that I tried yesterday is really hard for me but I'm trying to expand my horizons. :-)
Thanks, Michelle

Mik
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby Mik » Thu May 22, 2008 9:01 am

I was reviewing what has been written above and is it really as simple as having good rhythm and the fact that you made me laugh?

I hope my question didn't offend you, I just really want to learn to be a better poet.

AC Leming
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby AC Leming » Thu May 22, 2008 9:04 am

Hi Robert. I'm back again with another question. Someone I know is finishing up her MFA in creative writing (she does a lot of lyrical essays/memior stuff, some short fiction and is starting a lot of writing about the arts for various periodicals). How much do you think an MFA helps ones writing ability/publishability? Or is that mainly if you want to teach at some level?

Thanks again for the opportunity to pick yer brain.

Robert Lee Brewer
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Re: TODAY: Ask the Pro with Robert Lee Brewer

Postby Robert Lee Brewer » Thu May 22, 2008 9:11 am

That's a very common question, Carol--definitely not dumb.

You can do this if the publications you submit to are fine with simultaneous submissions. If they are and you get accepted elsewhere, just withdraw the accepted poem(s) from the other publications. Of course, to do this, you will need good submission tracking--so you always know where everything is.

If the publication you're submitting to does not favor simultaneous submissions, then you can either submit only to that publication or move on to one that does accept them.

Best,

Robert

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