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My day with poet Efrem Seyoum

I devote a minimum of eight hours per day to writing my own poetry as a full-time poet. This work combines revision with initial, unprocessed creation. Prior to concentrating on my own work, I also counted literary translations of poetry. How do you do it? is a question that many of my writer friends (and all poets) ask. Specifically, they mean in terms of money, as in, “How do you pay the rent?” But they also inquire as to how I fit poetry into a 9 to 5 schedule. Around seven in the morning, I take a stroll from my Lower East Side apartment to my writing location, Paragraph, on 14th St., taking notes about the city as I go. I’ve been reading a lot of translated, image-heavy Classical Chinese poetry, and I’m slowly compiling my own, Chinese-influenced poems for my next book based on urban imagery. There is a quiet room with climate control where a few editors, along with aspiring and published novelists and memoirists, pound away at their keyboards. There is a fridge and a café area with different caffeine sources. I require this particular area outside of my apartment, a kind of office where I can go from 9 to 5 and beyond, in order to feel “legit” as a full-time writer and poet. I spend between 30 minutes and an hour on “business and publicity” when I get to Paragraph, which mainly entails responding to emails (fan mail, hate mail, contracts, and promotional copy) and updating Facebook and Twitter. I lose myself for a while in poetry that inspires me to be creative, frequently Chinese poetry in translation or poetry by Auden. I then start working.

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