A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

Three Minute Poet


A few weeks ago, I ran into Jan Parker sitting at a crowded bar right before the Erotic Poetry and Burlesque show started. After exchanging the usual long time no sees and you’re looking mighty fine tonights, Jan cut to the chase and asked the question I dread the most, “Are you writing?” Most people ask how is my writing, and I can satisfy their curiosity with a simple, “Fine.” If pressed for more specifics, I can always rattle off my litany of poem ideas to fend them off. But this was another writer asking me the question, and more importantly, Jan Parker, who has a finely tuned BS meter. So I told her the awful truth, “No, not really,” then gave her the run-down of my September–poetrySpark (of course) and the weeks of planning before the event, the upcoming football trip to Charlotte, and the wraparound weekend in Myrtle Beach with mom and then to Atlanta for a professional conference. And I did not fail to mention my day job and the 8 projects pulling me in exactly that many directions.

Jan held up a finger then dismissed my excuses with the shake of her salt and pepper mid-length bob, “You only need three minutes a day.”

“Three minutes?” I repeated incredulously. Three minutes is about how long it takes to write a poem on demand. Even I could do that. And maybe that would make me feel less guilty about not finding the 15 minutes in my day to write (as a former MFA advisor once suggested) or being able to get up earlier than the crack of dawn like Mary Oliver.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not written for three minutes every day, but there has been at least one time each week when I’ve found time to put pen to page. Here are a few good lines:

September 18th: We used to believe that pluck and determination could shatter glass faster than our silent screams of protest

September 24th: The hall is dark, save a strip of light on the floor. When my eyes focus, my ears hear the music of laughter and clinking glass

September 29th: The ocean talks in his sleep at night in rhythmic murmurs

I’ve even used the three minute time to write poems in response to the Monday Poetry Prompt I send out each week to the Living Poetry Meetup Group

Visual prompt (9/24): From here the earth looks like the globe on your father’s mantle–perfectly round and unmovable

Borrowed lines (10/1): And the kiss that drained all of the bitter cynic from my blood


These poems and lines are not “finished”, but the three-minutes-a-day mantra keeps the creative juices flowing and helps to maintain the proper balance in the double life.

Author: poetsdoublelife

Poet and strategy/data guru living in Massachusetts.

3 thoughts on “Three Minute Poet

  1. Good reminder to push through the BLOCK. Thanks! (Good prompts, too)

  2. WHY do you HAVE to write poetry ALL the time? Did I miss the urgency? Is there a minimum number that must be done in a cetai time for one to considered a poet? If it’s not fun and it’s so frustrating and guiltridden, then you hover on the “will to NOT rite”

  3. Pingback: Three-Minute Poem: Winter Solstice « A Poet's Double Life

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