Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Zachary Schomburg

Hello, hello, and welcome to the middle of the week, dear readers. If you are feeling a little run down or if Friday is feeling a little too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan of Ronovan Writes.

For my contribution this week, I have chosen a quote from the poet Zachary Schomburg.


zacharyschomburg1Zachary Schomburg was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Iowa. He earned a BA from the College of the Ozarks and a Ph.D. in creative writing-poetry from the University of Nebraska.

His books of poetry include The Man Suit, Scary, No Scary, and Fjords vol 1. He has said of his work, which is known for its absurd, tender humor, “Mostly I want my poems to generate their own energy through confusion. I want my poems to confuse the reader. Not a confusion in a cognitive or narrative sense, but in an emotional sense.”

Schomburg co-edits Octopus Books and lives in Portland, Oregon.

“If a poem doesn’t scare you, or doesn’t push your heart up into your throat, then don’t do it like that. You’re doing it wrong.”

// Zachary Schomburg, “Poetry as Violence,” published in Evening Will Come

I used to hate poetry. I hated reading it; I hated writing it, I hated feeling so stupid and inadequate when I came into contact with it in any form. I hated it, but I wanted to be a better writer, so I took on the challenge.

I tried a few poems out here and there, some of my own and some belonging to others, and now I hate it because I love it so much.

With poetry, it is nearly impossible for me to hide any part of myself but there are things I am not ready to bring into the light. I love that I am getting down to the real me, the raw parts of myself that live underneath what I think I am and what the world wishes for me to be. I hate that it is happening almost without my consent.

The words come from a place that doesn’t quite feel like me, and yet they are more me than the ones I chose deliberately. The process is mysterious, and I can’t even be sure I enjoy it. Yet, I can’t stop.

I haven’t written a lot of poetry, but I get the feeling that when I do—and maybe when other poets do too—I feel like I am trying to explain and heal the same wounds over and over again. Wounds I’m not always sure I am ready to show so plainly.

I try to beat around the bush. I try to skirt the actual saying of the thing I want to say, but the poem won’t allow it. The poem is doing the saying, and the poem is saying what hurts. I don’t always want to be so open but to contain what I am feeling when I am writing feels wrong. It feels fake and pointless.

So poetry has become something I enjoy, but also something that is both unpredictable and scary. Poetry fills me with excitement and anxiety, but I suppose that is a good thing. I imagine that any art that feels unpredictable and scary is the kind we should all be pursuing. I imagine that is how we can be sure we are saying something important, something that needs saying, something that is worth saying.

To say anything less would be to waste both the readers and the writer’s time.

And none of us have any to waste.


If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter. You’ll get a bit of experimental writing from me—something more emotional, more private—and some interesting reads from a few other people. All made with lots of love, every week ♥

Original image via digboston

Biographical information via the Poetry Foundation


2 Replies to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Zachary Schomburg”

  1. Oh my gosh, Lisa. Your thoughts are so spot on. You know and hold the soul of a poet! I have always thought that the expression of emotions is pure poetry. We feel the pain, the joy, the sorrow through the written word. Some of my best poems are expressing that pain and emotion. It becomes raw and so real. Please keep writing your poetry. When you bare your soul, the world carries a bit of it and it won’t weigh so heavy on you. Hugs. An excellent post! <3


  2. Great post, I love how you shared your (your?) process. And that’s a brilliant quote. I’ve never heard of Zachary Schomburg but you’ve made me want to check him out 😊


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