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Say it clearly and you make it beautiful, no matter what.

Bruce Weigl, The Impossible

Impossible is a phenomenal exploration of vulnerability, violation, and the sacred. Simply put, it is a beautiful poem. A beautiful poem about childhood sexual abuse.

The language is crude, stark, and lovely. Bruce Weigl understands sound, structure, line breaks … okay, you get the point. This is not what makes Impossible beautiful.

Beautiful writing depends upon truth. Truth is sacred — worth regarding with perpetual, ceaseless awe. Truth requires more than syntax, style, or voice. A lot more.

Truth and beauty are not equivalent, but they are the same.

This much I know:

It takes courage to rip open your chest cavity and reach in. It takes audacity to tear out your heart. And finally, it takes vulnerable strength to hold it – to hold it in humble spaces.

Pleasurable language and attention to craft are not enough.


I’m not a big believer in writer’s block. Most of my motivation issues are fueled by reviser’s block.

When running, I seem to do much better after a warm up and some stretching. I write like I run. Sometimes the warm up is a list of observations. Sometimes I try to answer an unanswerable question.  Sometimes I write mediocre pantoums before switching to free verse.

Here’s one of my favorite warm up prompts :

  1. Create a stockpile of words. Cull the good stuff from magazines, the newspaper, or any other print media. I cut out words and throw them in an old pencil tin. My public libraries sells old magazines for 25 cents.
  2. Invade your stockpile of words. Start by selecting three words at random.
  3. Toss the words over your page. Paste them where they land.
  4. Create a poem by writing around your words.

How do you prepare for writing and revising?

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