A Petite Memorandum To Galvanize Genius In One’s Poetry

Three words to begin with: Read,
read, read. I can think of no finer

place to start than with Vladimir
Nabokov. Think of it like this: it
is virtually impossible to create
poetry “able to leap tall buildings
in a single bound” while failing
dismally to haul forth creativity
from a bankrupt well. Figuratively

As a template I am incontrovertible
in my belief this renowned novelist
is nonpareil as a study in vaulting
one’s own poetry to an apogee. In
truth, Nabokov began his literary
efforts as a poet. Why not have
a look at Poems and Problems, first
published by McGraw-Hill, avail-
able at many libraries and for pur-
chase at amazon.com. I bought
a fine used copy for $6.50—worth
its weight in pearls. Cherish his
economy of words and Arcadian
use of language: his puns, riddles,
surprises, his boundless vocabulary.

Footnote: To compose soaring
poetry, hire your thesaurus liberally!

Another great tool is Selected Poems,
published by Alfred A. Knopf and
available from the same purveyors.
(A burglar could not obtain it for
you cheaper than at amazon.com.)

The above-recited look into Mr.
Nabokov’s poetic strengths are
priceless: literally and figuratively.

But there is more to be said regard-
ing this giant’s Brobdingagian hand
in enhancing a poet’s creativity vastly.
His novels. In particular I am think-
ing of Bend Sinister and Despair—
both primers on creative writing,
each even easier to lay hands upon.
It is here where he offers some
of the most lush and inventive
language in the kaleidoscope of liter-
ature. The goings may evoke a labyrinth
to the reader in the opening chapters.
But persevere. The reward is a
constellation of wild insights—nothing
short of a grandmaster of creativity.
And let’s not forget those butterflies!
Poems with wings.

-Robert Nazarene
theamericanjournalof poetry.com