Starting to Make Stuff

After many years of doing other things, I have returned to my early interest in and love for poetry, and am making an attempt to resume writing, this time in a freer and more experimental mode. This space is not a gallery of finished work so much as it is a laboratory for trying new stuff with language. Professor Al Filreis, of the University of Pennsylvania, recently concluded a highly successful online course on Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (affectionately known as ModPo, offered through Coursera), and it is to him and to this course that I owe the motivation and courage to go forward with my own writing. In a post in the course discussion forum, he wrote: “Key ModPo point to take away: You can do things with words other than depict, describe and narrate. Try it and see how much pleasure can be derived from such an alternative.”

Also coming out of this course, from Austin Kleon’s *Steal Like an Artist*, this realization:

“Make Things, Know Thyself

“If I’d waited to know who I was or what was about before I started ‘being creative,’ well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.

“You’re ready. Start making stuff.

“You might be scared to start. That’s natural. There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called ‘impostor syndrome.’

“The clinical definition is a ‘psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.’ It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing.

“Guess what: None of us do. Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth. They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”

Rob Holland, Decatur, GA

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