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Becoming a Poet: A Complete how-to.

How to Become a Poet
Absorb whatever is around you
Like a box of baking soda in the fridge.
Be prone to hangnails
and mysterious rashes.
Cancel plans at the last minute.
Be unapologetic when saying no.
Judge nothing as beneath you, beyond you,
or outside your realm of interest.
Know everyone has a story to tell.
Carry a large overdraft on your checking account.
Dwell, no, fixate, on detail.
Realize everything matters or nothing does.
Wear an inordinate amount of black.
Or white.
Don’t mix.
Write poems you want to read.
Jot ideas on restaurant napkins.
Lose them.
Carry an extra pen.
Become accustomed to letters beginning
“We regret to inform you.”
Ignore them.
Write some more.


  1. Amy Davidoff   •  

    Dear Ms. McCallum,
    As I hope you know, I am an avid follower of your poetry postings, and wanted to let you know that much of your work touches me in many ways, and gives me joy and moves me to be thoughtful about so many aspects of life. I was particularly moved with your poem “How to become a poet”. Although I am not a creative writer, I am a biomedical researcher/educator and mentoring in my profession is critical. My profession has been woefully poor at fostering mentoring (especially women in science), and your poem hit so many familiar cords.

    Thank you for your passion and your creative prowess.
    Amy Davidoff

  2. Daniel H Boylan   •  

    Just such a fine service to anyone who wants to write. The mystery that’s been put into it needs to be taken out. You do that just the right way. It was hard for me, but I had to learn to JUST WRITE and not worry about the result the keep writing. After awhile, not so long really, I started to get poems that made some sense and were appreciated by others. All the best to you, Tricia!

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