Bruce Cohen: 25 Characteristics of an Enduring Poem

Bruce Cohen, author of two sublime poetry collections–Swerve and Placebo Junkies Conspiring with the Half-Asleep–delivers a credo of writing advice, infused with his characteristic wit and charm, via LitBridge: “I write my first draft like there’s no tomorrow & the time bomb strapped to my chest is ticking madly away & I revise like I will live forever, that the world is in a continuous & all inclusive game of freeze-tag. I constantly remind myself: no subject matter is taboo—avoid “poetic” topics as I find they often handcuff me & I am petrified I will slip into the predictable. I find it useful to try to trick myself, to drive into strange neighborhoods & let language guide me until I get to some other landscape within my brain. I have an advantage as I am horrible at reading maps & I don’t own a GPS. It’s rare, but sometimes it even snows in the Sahara.” We could read Bruce all day, he’s so good. Click here to read the entire piece, and here to buy his two enduring collections.