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Writing tips

Poetry Month writing tip: Erin Knight

In honour of National Poetry Month, we're serving up writing tips from Canadian poets all through April. To kick things off, Erin Knight on the virtues of a little fresh air.

Kerouac's advice is to "write only what kicks you and keeps you overtime awake from sheer mad joy." Mine is a bit more motherly: get some fresh air. Run, swim, set your mind wandering. To write poetry you need to get the song in your head. Re-read the books that made you want to be a writer in the first place. Give yourself permission to write total hooey, but go through your old notes with generosity and you might find a line that opens the whole thing up. Don't be too hard on yourself, except at 5 a.m. when the choice is either to roll over and sleep or get up and write.

And if something interests you, don't ask why or worry about whether it's worthy. Follow it.

Erin Knight is the critically acclaimed author of The Sweet Fuels, which was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and longlisted for the ReLit Award in 2008. Erin Knight's new book of poetry, Chaser, will be available April 7. She lives in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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