David lehman: An introduction

Writing a poem every day is about the best practice for a poet, whether a newcomer or an established voice. I did it for five years starting in 1996 and it was a glorious adventure, although I didn't realize it would turn out that way when I began. I wrote my daily poem in different places, at different times of day -- sometimes while listening to jazz or watching an old movie, but also in my pocket notebook on the subway and even once when in a traffic jam on the FDR drive. Two books resulted from my endeavors, both with titles lifted from defunct newspapers, because the daily poem is the closest thing to a poetry newspaper: "The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry" came out in 2000 and two years later came "The Evening Sun" with the same subtitle. Both were published by Scribner.

Poetry is not only for special occasions. Poetry is part of life, the part that is continuous with our best selves --- our dreams, our passions, our memories, our sorrows. Every day should have its poem to memorialize it. Poetry is forever. The good poems will last, the bad ones will disappear, and the freedom that comes with the habit of writing daily is unbeatable. I regard it as the ultimate in renewable energy sources -- also known as inspiration.


David Lehman

Editor, The Oxford Book of American Poetry
Series Editor, The Best American Poetry
Poetry Coordinator, New School Writing Program