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Monday, September 25, 2006

The Triggering Town - The Bible According to Richard Hugo

Sometimes Dead Beat thinks he may be ignoring poetry. More specifically he thinks that people may interpret it that way. Not so. Any comments made could as easily be applied to poetic technique. Especially those on cinema and lighting (See Light From Three Directions etc. )

Anyway there was method in my madness in reproducing a poem you all probably already know by heart (See Degrees of Gray - Richard Hugo). Hugo as you also know wrote a series of essays called The Triggering Town. Much as my old buddy, John Gardner, wrote the fiction bible, The Art of Fiction, Hugo worte the poetry bible.

Dead Beat of course claims they are interchangeable. Anyway, I dropped into the Kapowsin Tavern to have a drink with Dick and in the course of our conversation he remarked:


"Once a spectator said, after Jack Nicklaus had chipped a shot in from a sand trap, “That’s pretty lucky.” Nicklaus is supposed to have replied, “Right. But I notice the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

(Dead Beat had to bite his tongue, being a bit of a golfer once upon a time and appreciating the Old Timers of golf, he could have corrected Dick and told him that in fact it was Gary Player, but no matter. Never interrupt a master when he is on a roll.)

If you write often, perhaps every day, you will stay in shape and will be better able to receive those good poems, which are finally a matter of luck, and get them down. Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don’t work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work."

Does that sound like Dead Beat to you?

Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don’t work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work

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