Challenges to Budding Poets
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Invent a new language anyone can understand.

Climb the Statue of Liberty.

Reach for the unattainable.

Kiss the mirror and write what you see and hear.

Dance with wolves and count the stars, including the unseen,

Be naive, innocent, uncynical, as if you had just landed on Earth (as indeed you
have, as indeed we all have), astonished by what you have fallen upon.

Write living newspapers. Be a reporter from outerspace, filing dispatches to some
supreme managing editor who believes in full disclosure and has a low tolerance for
hot air.

Read between the lines of human discourse.

Avoid the provincial, go for the universal,

Think subjectively, write objectively.

Don't bow down to critics who have not themselves written great masterpieces,

Remember everything, forget nothing,

Work on a frontier, if you can find one.

Go to sea, or work near water, and paddle your own boat.

Associate with thinking poets. They're hard to flnd.

Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out,

Be a poet, not a huckster. Don't cater, don't pander, especially not to possible
audiences, readers, editors or publishers.

Come out of your closet. It's dark in there.

Be committed to something outside yourself.
Be militant about it. . .Or ecstatic.

To be a poet at 16 is to be 16, to be a poet at 40 is to be a poet. Be both.