By Bhanu Kapil

(Originally published on The Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog, for national Poetry month, April 2012. Which means, for the entire poem, you have to go there. But to begin…)

How to Write a Poem

1.  Eat the raw heart of a horse.  This will distinguish you from a cast of thousands.

2. Are you an urchin?  If so, consider writing a novel instead.

3. Have carnal encounters with anyone but another poet.  For obvious reasons, you do not want to set a plot line in motion. (See: 2.)

4. As Paul Thek said in 1972: “Redesign the human genitals so that they might be more equitable.”  (See: 3.)

5. Select notebooks with great effort, using every ounce of your psychic intensity.  I once casually purchased a soft cover moleskin.  What a disaster!  (I write on my knees.  The notebook wouldn’t open flat.)

6. Bioluminesce. Write sentences in a darkened room.  Lie on the floor and have other people gently rearrange your limbs. A poetry of hotel rooms, jungles and urban aquariums:

7. Reveal your soft side.  Populate your work with rueful remarks, owl bones, ice flowers on the Big Thompson, the slow motion collapse of a girl to the ground, and so on.  Keep doing this until you’re performing, almost by chance, a gruesome scene.