JON HUERTA and TIM STALEY -POETRY INSTRUCTION BATTLE – HOW TO WRITE ABOUT A SPECIFIC PERSON

POET STALEY’S TOP 10 RULES FOR WRITING ABOUT A SPECIFIC PERSON

1
allow yourself to acknowledge that you care about someone
then sweep that someone out of your mind
and onto the pages of your journal

2
dump the dust pan of that person
as fearlessly, honestly and quickly as you can

3
surround that person with the concrete nouns
that person surrounds themselves with
then deliberately inject action verbs
or slip them in when no one’s looking

4
keep writing everything you can about that person
not worrying about the direction your writing is going,
try rhyming about that person,
try listing things about that person,
try moving that person around in time,
try writing from that person’s point of view

5
describe the person as though you’re describing the details of a photo

6
let your journal pages marinate overnight in the refrigerator or at room temp

7
cut away all the lame stuff
cut away all the stuff that doesn’t deeply satisfy your aesthetic
cut away the stuff you put in there just for the teacher
cut away anything you’ve heard or read before

8
replace boring verbs with better ones
cut away all the fake words
sprinkle in literary devices until a poem appears
(if no poem appears repeat steps 1-5)

9
break your lines. make it look like a poem. not a paragraph.

10
proofread and read out loud and tweak and fix and submit

~~~

Huerta’s rules about writing about people you know and people you don’t

1.  Conversations about a past event will entice the reader to forge ahead.

2.  Objects around the poems location bring realism to your story and will build a bond between you and the reader. Common household products and animals, for instance, are worthy objects. Politics and trauma are questionable. 

3.  Never write about your feelings or love loss. You’re better than this and no one cares.

4.  If writer's block is something you are suffering from, try your hardest to live in the present with an unapologetic eye for your surroundings. Read the room, write it down. Repeat.

5.  Creating a mad lib style game will force your imagination. Pick up the daily paper and create a story using the police blotter and your comrades. 

6.  Always mix imagination with reality. Because the best shit happens when the fresh river meets the salty sea. Where the tears from your fears clash with consciousness to create a story worthy of telling again and most importantly for someone else to repeat it.

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