Dear Wislawa


We could all use a little guidance down the artist’s path now and then, and today’s helping hand comes from essential Polish poet and Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska.

The Poetry Foundation gathered some of her greatest hits from the poetry advice column she used to write for Polish litmag Życie Literackie (Literary Life). Here’s one to get you started:

You treat free verse as a free-for-all. But poetry (whatever we may say) is, was, and will always be a game. And as every child knows, all games have rules. So why do the grown-ups forget?

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →