Cures for Poetry Burnout?

Wow, it’s been a while.  My Internet was down for a while there, but I’m back now.

And I have a problem.

Since finishing my MFA, I’ve been suffering from poetry burnout.  I don’t want to write it, and I don’t want to read it.  I’m not so worried about the writing end of things, since inspiration comes and goes and all, and I’m puttering away on revisions and submissions and non-fiction in the meantime, but the lack of urge to read is getting to me.  I’m eating up novels and non-fiction, but poetry, not so much.

Has this ever happened to anyone else?  Anyone have any great suggestions of poets or books to jump-start my stalled brain?

5 thoughts on “Cures for Poetry Burnout?

  1. Dear Brianna,
    Yes, almost everyone who comes out of an MFA program talks about feeling burnout afterwards. It’s normal. What disturbing is that many people never escape the burnout – that’s unfortunately more common than it should be. I’d say, as long as you’re reading and writing SOMETHING, you don’t have to worry. Poetry will interest you again – start going to readings and reading books from schools of poetry you’ve never heard of, or totally different from, the kinds of poets you studied for your MFA. Try a little poetry writing, even if you don’t feel like it.
    And good luck! You’re not alone in this and hopefully you will be back to your old poetry-loving self in no time…
    Best, Jeannine

  2. Brianna, I wish I could help. My experience was more one of relief that I could go back to writing the way I wanted to, so I don’t have any experience from which to offer advice. I second Jeannine, though: write what strikes you as urgent, no matter what that may be.

    As for reading, does the lack of urge apply to your favorite poems? I would suggest hunkering down with the poems that have always moved you.

  3. It happens, from time to time. Typically what helps for me is to read some of my old favourites, but sometimes I just need a break. (This also happens to me with other genres that I write in, so I usually just work on something else for awhile.)

  4. I wonder if you guys might just have fun with writing — is that part of the burn-out I wonder, trying to meet the publishing standards? I am a poetry therapist and I write for my own healing expression and just don’t really care about publishing, though I do hope that one day I will turn to look at my writings and work on them with that purpose. Sometimes I think it’s one and the same, and writing for myself is just my first interest.


  5. Nessa, I do have fun with my own writing. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.

    I personally believe that there is a difference between self-expression and art, however. That’s not to say that there isn’t something healing about having written, just that not everything which may heal the writer is necessarily art. A lot of theraputic writing, in my opinion, is too personal to be meaningful to someone other than the writer and thus fails at being art.

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