A week ago, I met with my thesis advisor (and mentor) Rigoberto Gonzalez to talk about the manuscript I’m working on. He said that the work was solid and headed in the right direction, but urged me to keep writing “the kind of poems only Saeed can write.” That encouragement has been stuck in my head like a song ever since and I love it. Whenever I sit down to write, I ask myself “What is the poem that only I can write? What does that kind of poem look, sound, and feel like? How is that poem made?”
Rigoberto’s point, I think, is that sometimes we write great poems that for better or worse could have been written by someone else. I know that I often parrot writers I admire. Everyone does this. It helps us understand how more experienced writers do what they do so well. Now, though, I’m ready to recognize and act upon the fact that every once and a while, I bring a poem into this world that is the absolute accumulation of my thoughts and experiences.
That’s fierce. Again and again, that’s the goal.