Today, I’m very pleased to introduce our guest, Michael Onsando. Michael is a Kenyan writer, journalist, and poet. He blogs at michael.co.ke and can be found on Twitter (@Woozie_M). He lives in Nairobi.
Young Poet

Photo by woodleywonderworks

At some point in my life I fell into the habit of introducing myself as a poet. My opening line was always “Hi, I’m Michael; and I’m a poet.”

Without fail 96.32% of the time the response would be “I used to write poetry as well, but I grew out of it.” The other 3.68% would probably snicker and point (at 6’2″ I don’t exactly fit the stereotype of lit–geek). I find this strange because I rather enjoy poetry, immensely if I dare add.

So I started to wonder, how can you make sure you never “grow out of” poetry? Here’s what I came up with:

1. Listen to Your Muse

Nothing is more important that listening to the voices in your head. Treat them with respect. Even when they have nothing to say listen to them anyway. Sometimes a poem will be born of a single line one week that has no relevance until coupled with another line eight weeks later. Get used to that.

2. Feed Your Muse

Read.

When asked about writing, I reply, reading is to writing as eating is to going to the bathroom. In other words, writing is a by product of your reading. It is how your muse burns off excess calories from the food you feed it. So gobble up as many poems as you can.

3. Write

A friend of mine says that there is no such thing as writer’s block, the only thing that exists is a temporary lack of confidence. So write, write, write and when you are done with that write some more. Remember practice makes perfect.

4. Bask

Whenever you write something that you are genuinely proud of take a second or two to sit back and enjoy the moment. Think of that moment as equivalent to the much needed family vacation at the end of the year. Sit back and enjoy your art, then pick up a book.

Most of all though in poetry you must remember, there is no such thing as a wrong answer. Maya Angelou said, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”

You have a poem, write it.

PRACTICE

Write a poem.

Just 10 or so lines. But bask in it.

When you’re finished, post your poem in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.

Have fun!

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