Writer’s Desk: Be Spontaneous

The somewhat unsung Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay was a poet, novelist, and active socialist of the anti-Stalinist inclination. He channeled his passionate beliefs into an impressive series of books that showed his desire to write with spirit and truth rather than formalism.

McKay explained why in Harlem Shadows:

I have not used patterns, images and words that would stamp me a classicist or modernist … I have never studied poetics; but the forms I have used I am convinced are the ones I can work with in the highest degree of spontaneity and freedom. I have chosen my melodies and rhythms by instinct, and I have favored words and figured which flow smoothly and harmoniously into my compositions.

Choose the words that feel right for the piece. And for you. Not what you think should be chosen.

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