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About the Work: “The Winter Man” by Rick Bursky

In our “About the Work” series, Olga Mexina and Tom Sokolowski ask recent contributors for insight into their writing or for current sources of inspiration. Read Rick Bursky's work in SER Vol. 42.1.


This poem, The Winter Man, was written in my writer’s group, where a few of us met on Zoom once a week to write poems together. Oh, we are not writing a group poem. We each write our own. We each take turns throwing out a word. If someone says “zebra,” we all have to use that word in the following line of our poem. The next person might say “taxi,” so the taxi must also appear somewhere in the poem. There are usually three or four of us writing together. At the end, we read our poems to each other. What comes out of this is amazing. Though the poems have many of the same words, they are wildly different. These prompts force us to surrender our imaginations to language. The narrative will result from the words and not the other way around. Of course, the poem can later be revise or simply abandoned. 


RICK BURSKY’s most recent book is Let’s Become a Ghost Story, BOA Editions. He teaches poetry for The Writer’s Program at UCLA Extension.


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