Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer

January 26, 2017

A poetic journey through the creative process for readers, writers, artists & dreamers.


As I enter my seventh decade on this planet, I wonder what words of wisdom I might have written to the younger me. What treasured tidbits have I learned along the way? What could I leave in a letter to young wide-eyed artists and poets searching the world for advice, guidance, and inspiration.


I began as I always do, by closing my eyes and listening to that soft voice that has spoken without fail for more than a half century. The voice spoke. I took notes. Here they are. Little poetic pieces I trust will speak to future generations of poets and artists, young and old. May they continue to listen. May they continue to speak.



Do not tell

the world

your pain.

Show it

the joy

of your tears.



Hang a picture

of truth

in your heart.

Let the mirror

of your eyes

fill the page.



A simple


is light.

A complex


is fire.



When in need

of the poem,

go write it.

But do not think

you are


There is no


for the poet.

There is only


for the poem.



Do not write

another word–

unless you have to.



No matter

how many poems

you write

to keep

yourself alive,

you cannot.





Spit at the dark.

Curse the moon.

Throw rocks

at the stars.

Get it all out.

Get it all out.

Get it all out on paper.



Style is not

how you


It is how

you do not








your instincts

to write.


your reasons

not to.




like lightning,


from the





Look in the mirror.

If you see a stranger,

write a poem.

If you see

your father,

write a poem.

If you see


put down the pen.



A silent rhyme

upon the page

is what the poet gives,

gentle words

whispered in trust

to see if memory lives.



The path

to inspiration starts

upon a trail unknown.

Each writer’s block

is not a rock.

It is a stepping stone.



Poems are not penned

to the page

waiting for us to admire.

They are only

lonely thoughts

caught by tears on fire.



Don’t plant

your poem

on the page

as thought

you’re hanging


Its shape

and flow

should come

and grow

like wild

summer grapes.



A poet’s life

is paradox,

it’s more than what it seems.

We write

of our reality,

the one inside our dreams.



A poem

is the echo of a promise,

the thunder of a sigh,

the music

of a memory,

a child asking why.



A poem

is a rising moon

shining on the sea,

an afterglow

of all you know,

of all your dreams set free.



A poem

is a spider web

spun with words of wonder,

woven lace

held in place

by whispers made of thunder.



A poem

is a firefly

upon the summer wind.

Instead of shining

where she goes,

she lights up where she’s been.



It’s not the poem

on the page

that makes them laugh or cry,

it’s how your soul

touched a heart

and opened up an eye.



A poem

is a play

meant to delight you.

A poem

is a party

meant to excite you.

A poem

is a song

full of desire.

A poem

is a sunset

meant to inspire.

A poem

is a secret

shared among friends.

A poem

is a promise

that never ends.



A poem

is a whisper, a shout,

thoughts turned inside out.

A poem

is a laugh, a sigh,

an echo passing by.

A poem

is a rhythm, a rhyme,

a moment caught in time.

A poem

is a moon, a star,

a glimpse of who you are.



The answer

to the poet

comes quicker than a blink,

though the spark

of inspiration

is not what you might think.

The muse

is full of magic,

though her vision may be dim,

the poet

does not choose his muse,

it is the muse that chooses him.


  1. Wow, Charles. I’m going to print this and hang it up in my writing space. So many of the sections spoke to me. I’m still chewing on this:

    Look in the mirror.
    If you see a stranger,
    write a poem.
    If you see
    your father,
    write a poem.
    If you see
    put down the pen.

  2. I was drawn to the one Laura mentioned above and I also liked:
    “No matter
    how many poems
    you write
    to keep
    yourself alive,
    you cannot.”

    There were so many gems here! Thank you!

  3. “The muse/ is full of magic” is a way of defining a good day. Lots of great advice here. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for this!

    “A poem
    is a moon, a star,
    a glimpse of who you are.”

    Poetry is a means of creation, and expression. So beautiful.

  5. Charles, you have filled my heart with such fabulous poems and little clips of advice that I can hardly believe it. I am wondering if you have one small piece that you would be interested in offering to my Winter Wonder Gallery that many PF writers are contributing to. The invitation is at: Thanks for the exceptional read at the end of the day.

  6. I loved every bit, bot also love that this is in Cricket, and many children will read it, and love it, too. The special ways you made each part shows how wide our visions can be when writing. Thanks for sharing, will certainly print it to read often!

  7. Such wise advice and inspiring words and images. This is something I will want to print out and put where I can read it often to remind me and inspire me.

  8. Love this. Just archived the link so I can come back over and over again to savor each tidbit, each pearl you’ve strung together for us.

  9. these are gorgeous, Charles! You’re sure you weren’t whirling in a Sufi dance when you spoke these out, because they sure remind me of Rumi!

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