David Lehman is the October poet to participate in Marsh Hawk's "Chapter One" project that shares how poets got their start. You can read his contribution HERE, but here's an excerpt:
At the University of Cincinnati, where I taught as the Elliston Poet in Residence, I was asked what advice I would give to young writers. I looked at the bright, eager faces in the room, and I said — I didn’t know I was going to say this, it was just what I felt at that moment – that they should remember that poetry is not life. That there will come a time when all of them will feel envy and resentment, because they didn’t get the job they deserved, or the award, or the recognition. There is no one is the poetry world who feels he or she has received the recognition they deserve. The question is: How will you deal with the bitterness and resentment? Because those things are the enemies of poetry. Those things are not real — not real in the sense that grief and love are real. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to succumb to competitive envy. And that is why it is important to remember that poetry is not the whole of one’s life, but a part of it, and that we should not put too great a burden on the poetry that we love. Keeping it alive, poetry and the possibility of poetry, is the great thing.