“The first job of the poet is to become the person who could write the poems.” —Stanley Kunitz
If you pick up a turtle attempting to cross a busy road and try to redirect him to safety, he will likely return to the same place in the road where you found him and continue his crossing. The turtle has an internal guidance system that is impervious to your ideas of traffic. Despite your best intentions to share your wisdom, the turtle needs to find out for himself how to navigate the road’s potential perils.
When it comes to receiving advice, we are all turtles. Even the greatest advice from well-meaning people can’t save us. We can only save ourselves.
This notion can be hard to accept. We see that our literary heroes ...