Friday, October 07, 2011

Elizabeth Austen's Letter to Young Writers (A @HugoHouse Series)


Seattle's Richard Hugo House is doing an incredible series on Letters to Young Writers (not "young" in age, but in the idea of the beginner's mind, the just-beginning writer, the we-always-have-something-to-learn writer).
Poet Elizabeth Austen wrote the first letter and it's wonderful.
Here's a bit of it--
Years ago I heard Stanley Kunitz say, “The first job of the poet is to become the person who could write the poems." 
For a long time I thought this meant I had to become a better person than I am. I thought I had to become virtuous and perfect, so that the Muse would give me wise and beautiful poems.
But what I know now is that all (all!) I needed to do is to become myself, not someone else’s idea of me.
Visual artists David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their indispensable book  Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, write that “…becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.”

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