In the Poetry Writing Workshop

“Milton conceived the Paradise Lost as a whole before he executed it in portions. We have his own authority also for the Muse having ‘dictated’ to him the ‘unpremeditated song’, and let this be answer to those who would allege the fifty-six  various readings of the first line of the Orlando Furioso. Compositions so produced are to poetry what mosaic is to painting.”

—Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

“Consider your poem a mosaic,”
Said the well-meaning poet-critic.
Well, I’d paid for his advice,
And he acted kind of nice,
Though when I saw him regale
That blond and buxom female,
I knew she would be his star.
He’d take her, yes, and far.

“What? Poetry—emotion?
Where’d you get that notion?
Eliot tells us ‘feeling.’
Just don’t send our senses reeling.
And what? You said inspiration?
Be wary of sudden sensation.
How much would it trouble you
To follow Richard W.?
A poem is like a fine wine,
Nuances in every line.
If you grasp all at once,
It must be the work of a dunce.
A poem should not mean but be.
Will I have to give you a C?”

Well, all this seemed fine and good.
I said that I’d understood.
But what of the mind’s “fading coal”
And the God-besotted soul?
In my ear whispered Shelley:
“This fellow’s a nervous Nellie.”


An Invitation

to my precious C. R.

I am a poet. I live in Fantasy Land.
I told my friends this once, and they all laughed.
Now everyone I meet thinks I am daft.
But come. Let me take you by the hand . . .

Do let us sit together, here on the sand,
For I can help young poets hone their craft.
Oh dear. I’ll have to give this one the shaft.
The books we’ll write together will all be banned.

We’ll never get to Stockholm at this rate.
It’s time for a really sharp volta. I like this font.
Or shall we make a caesura . . . You say you Kant?
I want you to write like me. An’ be wise and great.

So lemme take you by the hand.
For I am a Poet. I’ll show you Fantasy Land.


William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan University. His most recent books include From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books, 2016), Munich Poems, and Salzkammergut Poems (the latter two from Cedar Springs Books, also 2016).

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5 Responses

  1. Connor Rosemond

    Who is the “C.R.” to which your second poem is addressed, if I may ask?

    • William Krusch

      Especially with the reference to Kant, the poem’s almost uncanny in that regard. Also, Rosemond… rose world… hence, Fantasy Land? You have only published one poem on SCP, Connor, and already you seem to be receiving poems dedicated to you. I have indeed been wondering whether or not Rosemond is your actual last name – it is as if you were destined to be a poet, or you are clever with pseudonyms.

      • Connor Rosemond

        Furthermore, I very recently traveled to Stockholm. Uncanny indeed!

  2. David Paul Behrens

    Here are some random thoughts on poetry:

    I have often thought of writing poetry as painting a picture with words. Sometimes the meaning is precise, sometimes the painting is abstract.

    I am often criticized for the lack of meter in my poetry, which is probably warranted, and is a result of a lack of technique in the writing of it. I basically have no technique or structural strategy when I write a poem. The words enter my head and I write them down, almost as if someone or something is dictating it. I seem to have a natural talent for rhyming, which I am sure is also true for many of you who contribute to this website. Sometimes I think in rhymes. So basically, I write down my thoughts and call it poetry.

    This may seem funny to all of you literary scholars, but it occurred to me only yesterday that I need to go to the library, check out some books by classical poets, and study them. Perhaps such activity will have an influence on my thought patterns and cause me to write in a more classical vein.
    I know what some of you who read this must be thinking. Why didn’t you realize this long ago? “Better late than never.” Hopefully, not too late.

    • DPB

      I would like to amend the comments above, in that my poetry is not entirely devoid of any structure. I do write in verses, usually quatrains.


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