I’ve been drawn into the poetry 180 website lately. I wish it had existed when I was in high school, or a book of poems such as these had existed (Although I’m sure they did exist, just were never mentioned). I, like so many others, thought “real” poetry was the stuff that was published years and years ago. The stuff that it takes a Ph.D. to navigate. This contemporary poetry wasn’t available to me, wasn’t read in my classes, wasn’t spoken about by my teachers.
This particular poem called “Do You Have Any Advice for Those of us Just Starting Out?” by Ron Koertge seems particularly relevant to me where I am right now. It’s a poem about starting something new and about being inexperienced and looking to those who are “established” for advice. I enjoy the image of a small child building up a tower of books in that quiet library, only to watch it all collapse. But the ending is the best part of all…
You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, “Shhhh.”
Then start again.
I think that bit of advice can apply to anyone, anywhere, just starting out doing anything. Things are bound to go wrong. Mistakes will be made. Nothing says you can’t defy expectations, laugh, and start over. Sometimes it’s better that way.