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Ask someone else what to write about.

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” -- G. K. Chesterton


Ask your spouse or significant other what to write about. Ask your parents; ask your children; ask the waitress at a restaurant. Many people have ideas of what they would like to write about if they could. Ask another friend who writes poetry. If you want even more fun, ask for a real challenge to write about. Your friend may ask you to write from the perspective of the opposite sex or from a child's perspective. They may give you a quotation to work from (as a friend did in giving this author the Chesterton quote), a subject, or maybe an image from their mind or their past.

James Keelaghan introduces his song, "Sinatra and I" by telling the story of how a friend asked him to write a song about a dog, but insisted that the dog couldn't die in the song. For those who know James' body of work, you'll know the significance of that limitation. He even killed off a piano through drowning in one song. He also has a song with a chorus that starts, "Who dies? Everyone dies." That one is among his cheery and upbeat songs.

Maybe when you ask for a suggestion your friend will be totally evil and be very specific in what you have to write about. For instance, your friend may challenge you to write a bluegrass/banjo feel song about a guy shooting a flea with a twenty-gauge shotgun, and that it be done in the first person with the guy living in a double-wide trailer with his wife, twelve kids and three dogs on 10 acres of land, and that the one with the flea is his seventh child, Jimmy Jack, no Bobbie Lou, well why not both? If you have a friend like this, make sure she is also a poet so you can return the favor. The true injustice of writing that particular poem is that after the challenge was met, and this poet sent the poem to the challenger, she managed to get compensation for it. She showed it to her boss who laughed so hard, that he decided to take her out to lunch for the simple act of showing him the poem. She didn't even reveal she had inspired it. She just said a friend had sent it to her. Did the poet get a free lunch? Nooooo! Some people have all the luck!

Of course this brings up one of those reasons to be a poet that you don't hear lauded much. Some people write poetry for fame, fortune, and glory. Those are the ones who die young of self-inflicted wounds after finding out that poets only come by fame accidentally, fortune through the death of rich relatives, and glory through their day jobs. Many poets write for their own mental health and inexpensive therapy. Some do it because their muse drives them to create high art. Still other poets, read songwriters, do it because it's cheaper to cut a record with your own songs than having to pay other people as composer and or lyricist. But now, when your friends ask why you write poetry, you can tell them that you write so that they might get free meals.

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