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Poetic License #4121964 Opus I

Opus I, is packed with over 900 poems in 484 pages, two columns to a page. Robert’s poetry runs the gamut from non-sensical to esoteric, love lost to love won and everything in between. There are astral and spiritual observations, the down to earth and the far far out. They are full of insight (near and far-sighted), are smart, evocative, enervating, entertaining, happy, sad, poignant and generally a gift to your own imagination. A number of his poems have been published over the years and he has published more than 50 chapbooks. However given the volume of his work, picking out a few selected poems (other than those that appear in the 112 page “Poems for the Muse Penelope,” WordSculptorPress 2010) to create a book of poems always seemed inadequate. Most poetry books are small and thin [1].

Even anthologies such as “The Yale Younger Poets Anthology” (5”x8” 303 pages) and individual poet’s collected works are not that large. Robert finally decided he could probably get everything (up to this point) in four large 6×9” volumes and given that they would need to be over 400 pages each, and decided “opus” would be the appropriate term for the numbered subtitles. This volume is Poetic License #4121964: Opus I.

Robert confided, “Did you know that the Latin word, “opus” is the term for “a work, a composition  (esp. musical composition) or set of compositions as numbered among the works of a composer in the order of publication”—O.E.D. Thus how appropriate to utilize my poetic license to adapt composition to lyric or poetry and composer to author or poet. I thought it wholly consistent to title my poetic oeuvre: “Poetic License #4121964 and the four volumes which will contain it: “Opus I, Opus II, Opus III and Opus IV.”  Did you also know that “opus” is the singular form of the word and the plural (in Latin) is “opera”? Indeed, the compilation of all my poetry, to me, does seem to be a long opera!

How Robert Got There:

One Poem at a Time

For a good portion of his life Robert has been writing poetry. Robert said: “The first poem that I wrote and saved was on April 12, 1964. It was a watershed moment that of course I didn’t realize at that moment.  In 1998 when I came back to Dallas from having lived for a time in Sacramento, California and Taos, New Mexico I reflected on the beginning of my poetry writing. I recognized that one needs to claim and name what they are and what they do. I conjured that we all have and use our poetic license, but we do not all claim it! I decided that I had become a poet and had been a poet since 1964 and that it was at the point that I claimed my poetic license. And, since every license needs to have a number, I decided that when one accepts the title or name of poet, that date, should be come their poetic license number. Having become a poet on April 12, 1964 I took on Poetic License #4121964.”

Some fifty years later he is ‘almost’ amazed to find that he had penned over 4000 poems. Robert commented: “I say almost, because I’ve kept track of what I’ve written. An art instructor once told me his secret. What I now call, “Mastery by One Thousand”. When asked how he had mastered the watercolor technique he used, he said, “…paint a thousand paintings and you’ll master it too.” That idea stuck with me and I’ve applied it to all my artistic endeavors, which includes writing. It may not take a thousand repetitions to master something, but it bears masterful fruit. thus, when I realized in 1994 I’d written over 600 poems I knew I would set perhaps an unreachable goal. I was already aware of the great American poet, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, (EED) who during her lifetime wrote nearly 1800 poems, of which, fewer than a dozen were published during her lifetime. According to Emily’s younger sister, Lavinia, she discovered, after Emily’s death 1775 poems bound in small packets tied with thread. Lavinia was the impetus behind the subsequent publication of Emily Dickinson’s poetry we know and love.

“I thought 1800 poems was a massive number; three times as many as I had already written between 1964 and 1994! I thought of my art instructor and wanted to pen to 1000 poems. I started setting goals for myself to write, say 50 poems in a month. That meant I would have to write 12.5 poems a week or average about 1.7 poems a day. That didn’t seem like a daunting goal, to write a poem or two every day. By the time I moved to Taos, in November 1995, I had written something over 800 poems. It was then I set a goal to reach 1000 poems by April 12, 1997. I made it with a few days to spare. Next up was trying to match the estimable Miss Dickinson’s oeuvre, which I did in June of 1999. My next goal was to double the “Master’s Thousand”. I achieved mark of 2000 in 2000. My favorite poet (since high school) was Edward Estlin Cummings, better known as EE Cummings (EEC). I was well acquainted with EEC’s poetry, but not his painting. In the 1999-2000 time frame I obtained a copy of Milton A. Cohen’s, POETandPAINTER, The Aesthetics of E.E. CUMMINGS’S Early Work, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1987. That book summarized EEC this way: “Edward Estlin Cummings (10/14/1894 – 9/3/1962) American poet, painter, essayist, author and playwright.  An oeuvre containing approximately 2,900 poems, an autobiographical novel, four plays and a number of essays, drawings and paintings”. As you can imagine, I set my next goal at 2900 poems which I reached in 2003. These goals can be viewed as fanciful except that they have enervated me to continue to write, to continue to plum inspiration and thought. However, these were all interim goals, as I never intended to stop writing poetry. I doubled EEDs poetic oeuvre of 1775 when in 2010 I reached 3600 poems.

Now, at over 4000 poems, I am faced with a seemingly fatuous and daunting goal of thinking I could double EEC’s 2900 by reaching the whopping number of 5800 poems. Though a worthy goal, I’m looking only, wistfully, at the next 100. Although over the last fifteen years I have written nearly 2000 poems, I have slowed considerably. And though I’ve never ‘stopped’ writing poetry this ‘slow-down’ is due in large part to my other writing. During this same period I have written and published eight novels that contains close to a million words, a 579 page true crime book, an additional volume of poetry and I have written numerous essays. Using all those words, you can write a lot of poetry! Now with all due respect to my own poetry, I don’t claim to be EED or EEC, but they both have inspired me, by their poetry and poetic productivity.

I would like to think that my goal-driven approach allowed me to continually hone my craft and set my cap as to my poetic voice in which I believe I have become meta-conscious-competent. I do hope you find personal value in reading my poetry and hope my work can or will inspire your own!   rjs


PS – Influences: In Brief

Robert said his view of poetry came alive in English class in spring of 1964. Among other poets the four most influential were William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, his Jabberwocky, and e.e. cummings and in particular his: anyone lived in a little town how. Each in their own way fired his imagination and desire to write. Two years later he discovered Rod McKuen.

Robert explained: “Each influenced me in their own way. Shakespeare because of his command and richness of language and its nuance that used poetry to tell a story in the form of plays. Ms. Dickinson for her view of life and the experiencing of it as poetic moments, as well as the volume of her oeuvre.  Carroll for the expression of his phantasmagorical imagination, as well as his juxtaposition and making of words. Likewise e.e. cummings for his seeming dispensing of rules to create a magically lyrical expression of the written word. In particular using a combinatory word-making that rivaled and or surpassed that of Carroll, But most significantly, e.e. cummings use of the page to present his poetry as visual art by virtue of his use of positional juxtaposition of line and space… and, importantly the volume of his poetic oeuvre. And, perhaps most impactful was Rod McKuen’s ability to evoke deep feeling in the majesty of the captured moment; his story telling, his lyricism and, like cummings, his use of the page as canvas upon which he painted images in words.

“Though there have been other poetical influences, these five poets made the most profound impact on my psyche and my poetry. Admittedly, for most of my early poetry life I eschewed any in-depth reading of even the favorite few above. I wanted my own voice to appear, to create my own poetics without trying to write like any of my favorites. Thus for years I avoided reading other poets, other poetry in order to concentrate on producing poetry unique to my experience.

I have never concerned myself with trying to write the perfect poem. I most wanted to perfectly express what I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say it. I am satisfied I have done that. It was not my personal goal to seek others to justify or validate my poetry. My poems were written primarily with myself as first audience; their value, justification and or validation rests in their mere existence.

“I have published my poetry in this collection as a way to physically mark my poetic place in the commerce of poetics. Presumptuously, since you are reading this you may have been or may become engaged to purchase Opus I, II, III, and or IV, for that I whole heartedly thank you.

“How you respond to any or all of my poetry will be guided by your own experience, likes and dislikes. If you find a single poem that touches you, I will be greatly gratified. Should you find one that you wish to cherish I will be pleased beyond words.

“Finally, [eschewing the moribund quote attributed to T.S. Eliot to “make it new”], that you might like more than one of my poems would be, like the ubiquitous cliche, icing on the cake.”


Poetic License

Not every poet knows exactly when he or she began writing or saving their work. Most poets do remember when they became a poet. Those that do know their poetic birthday don’t forget it. Robert has encouraged many others who express themselves either in the written word or spoken word form, it is about “Becoming” as he wrote about in the poem below. “In addition to the writing and speaking,” he said, “you must embrace the title of poet. Others may or may not call you a poet, but only you can claim the title, Poet, for yourself.”



the great I AM

is the first step

of creation.

His greatest secret is

revealed in his name,

and when I claim it

I become it.

In the act of claiming

I am a Poet; I am!


Robert felt poets deserved to celebrate there poetic birthday and so he created the International Institute for Literary Licensure in Poetics to convey poets with their own Poetic License, their license number being their initials and the date of their becoming a poet. For example: Poetic License EEC #10141894. 

If you have a poetic birthday you would like to honor contact Robert at robert-sadler@sbcglobal.

[1] For a Christmas present I recently received a copy of E.E. Cummings Complete Poems 1904-1992, edited by George J. Firmage. The second subtitle reads: Revised, Corrected, And Expanded Edition Containing All The Published Poetry. This 1100+page volume is a 7×2.2×9.6 inch hard back weighing in at 3.7lbs. Note: If I had published my poetry as in this volume using predominately one page per poem (longer poems taking more pages), I would need to print a book of over 4000 pages. Even if I were as famous as EEC, in any printing age, 4000 pages, that’s not going to happen.

Thank you: rjs

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List Price: $17.00
Format: 6"x9"
Size: 484 pages
ISBN-10: 10: 1503246493
ISBN-13: 13: 978-1503246492
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