Cover Photo: Photograph by Thomas Renaud/Unsplash
Photograph by Thomas Renaud/Unsplash

I’m a Nervous Wreck When I Write Prose

I am yet another poet writing a novel. Which is to say, I find myself in hell.

This screenshot of a tweet from Aria Aber (@AriaAber) reads: "poets shouldn't write novels bc they take every sentence and weigh it on a kitchen scale, then bring their little nail scissors and start pruning the commas and the images and the sounds until everything is perfect and how are you supposed to do that with a story that's 60k words"

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And when it’s finished, maybe I’ll call myself a novelisteven if I’m the same nervous wreck I’ve always been.

Ben Purkert is the author of the forthcoming novel The Men Can't Be Saved (Overlook, 2023). His poetry collection For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018) was named one of Adroit's Best Poetry Books of the Year. His writing appears in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. The founding editor of Guernica's Back Draft interview series, he teaches at Rutgers. You can read more of his work at or on Twitter (@BenPurkert).