After reading Cecilia's advice you will find her biographical information (which was taken from Cecilia's website). Please, please, take a few minutes to view Cecilia's website. Make a point to read the poems on her website. Her brilliant poem "Burning the Doll," which happens to be one of my top ten favorite poems, is on her webpage!
1). Read voraciously -- the best contemporary poetry, but also reach back
into poetry's traditions (all the way to Sappho, at least!) and read poetry in
translation from other cultures and traditions.
2). Don't be in a rush to publish. You may only end up publishing things
you'll later regret having published, or the (almost inevitable) rejections may
interfere with your relationship to your work. Give the work time to
develop, and learn to think of the work as its own reward, and not to worry too
much about "validation" from the world.
3). Do find a supportive community of poets, a workshop or just a few
friends whose opinions and goodwill you trust, people who will challenge and
stimulate you as a poet. But don't let the judgements of others quash what may
be most original in your work -- a danger of workshops.
4). Lead an interesting life, care deeply, don't be afraid.
CECILIA WOLOCH was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up there and in rural Kentucky, one of seven children of a homemaker and an airplane mechanic. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University L.A. in 1999.
Her books of poems are Sacrifice (Cahuenga Press, 1997), a BookSense 76 selection in 2001; Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem (Cahuenga Press, 2002); and Late (BOA Editions, 2003) for which she was named Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry in 2004. A chapbook manuscript, "Narcissus," was chosen winner of the Tupelo Press Snowbound Competition and will be published in 2007.
She is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and of The Paris Poetry Workshop, and is currently a lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Southern California as well as a member of the core faculty of the low-residency MFA Program in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University.