Do you have any advice for young writers?

My father once told me a story, and I really liked it. A young poet goes to this famous poet and says 'I want to write, what shall I do?' and he tells him 'Go and memorise a hundred thousand verse, couplets.' So the young man goes away, and it takes him a few years, he memorises so many things, and he comes back and tells the famous poet 'Okay, I memorised all the verse.' 'Now go away, and try to forget all of that, and start writing.' I think that's very important, that you need to be educated in whatever you do, so if you want to write poetry you really need to be aware of what is written, what kind of poetry is there, what this language, English language, has achieved, ancient and modern, and then you'll find your place and then you will be able will be able to write away, otherwise you might be writing cliché without knowing. That's something I did as an immigrant poet, because I was new to English. Sometimes you're completely fresh, and that is fantastic, but you have to read. If you don't read, I don't think you can be successful.


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