Tishani Doshi on How She Writes a Poem

With her recent collection Girls Coming Out of the Woods (Bloodaxe, 2018) selected as one of the Poetry Book Society’s Summer Recommendations, we decided that May’s ‘How to Write a Poem’ should come from Tishani Doshi:

Steal a first line if you must. After you’ve finished writing the poem, destroy that line. Or not. Newspapers can be a good source of inspiration. Or not. Handwrite, preferably in turquoise ink. Or not. Worship words and keep a notebook filled with them. Or not. Memorize a poem you love. Or not. Understand that poetry is held in the body—that it works to a different kind of time and rhythm from prose words and news words and figure out how to inhabit that time. Or not. Long walks may help. Or not. Listen to Baudelaire: “Be drunk” —on wine or virtue, but be drunk. Or not. Proceed. Or not.

Tishani DoshiAbout Girls Are Coming out of the Woods

In her third poetry collection, Tishani Doshi confronts violence against women, lending her resonant, lyrical voice to those who have endured abuse, and those who have been permanently silenced. The poems are steeped in the heat and danger of the monsoon season, honouring the dead by celebrating survival. Doshi writes with love and reverence for that which thrives against the odds — female desire, the power of refusal, and the aging body. Doshi reminds us that poetry, at its root, is song.

“In Girls are Coming out of the Woods, Tishani Doshi combines artistic elegance with a visceral power to create a breathtaking panorama of danger, memory, beauty and the strange geographies of happiness. This is essential, immediate, urgent work and Doshi is that rare thing, an unashamed visionary who knows that, ‘while you and I go on with life / remembering and forgetting, / the poets remain: singing, singing.'”

— JOHN BURNSIDE

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