College Admissions Essay: I Must be True to My Voice

College Admissions Essay: I Must be True to My Voice

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I read Rainer Maria Rilke's work, Letters to a Young Poet, in the tenth grade, and it had an incredible impact on my understanding of poetry as a vocation. The letters were written by Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite poets, to a young admirer.

 

In the letters, Rilke gives the young poet advice on what it means to be a poet. I still turn to his advice when I am feeling frustrated or adrift in my own efforts to write. Rilke urges young poets to:

 

- structure their lives so that writing remains at the center (easier said than done)

- to be patient during the process of writing

- not to worry about fame or what other people think of one's poetry

- to be attentive to the world

- to value poetry's difficulty

 

He said, 'People have... oriented all their solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must hold to what is difficult; everything alive holds to it' (53).

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Rilke's injunction that the writer needs to be true to his or her voice and craft is the best advice I have ever received in my own writing.
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