Fragments from an Apocryphal Craft Book

after Jorge Luis Borges

Fragments from an Apocryphal Craft Book

1. Poets are bad at advice about writing capital-P poetry but decent when it comes to advice about writing individual poems.

2. So many poems, friends, are boring. We must not say so.

3. If we finally all agreed about what a poem is, would it actually help us write them?

4. After a poem has punched us in the gut, wrecked us, snatched our soul, arrested us, caught us by the throat, and floored us, has all that violence left any room for wonder? 

5. At the end of my suffering of sonnets, there was a door to more sonnets.

6. Poems have been signifyin' on the great chain of history, but not enough to satisfy the gates or gatekeepers.

7. Borges said, “Happy are the happy” (but poets are the exception).

8. You, too, have spent all day putting in and taking out a comma? Oh, okay. Me, neither.

9. Every poet before they were a poet was already a reader. So, any poems written for “other poets” include all readers who might become poets.

10. The last temptation of Christ was Submittable’s “In-Progress” status.

11. “Poet” is not a personality. Poets have no special insight, no gnostic knowledge, no transcendent wisdom. Poets have a rusted bucket of language that they are desperately scrubbing to make it look new.

12. The white whale is the poet’s cheek. The harpoon is the poet’s tongue.

Readers, make room for laughter and lightheartedness in all your nerdy pursuits. Laughter is a prelude to rest. And we must become nerdy about our rest.

Steven Leyva’s poetry collection is The Understudy’s Handbook.

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