Being cool is mostly about posture. It is a way of holding your body. It is a certain expression on your face. It’s the way you handle a cigarette, but not the way you smoke it. Maybe you never even take a puff; you just let the thing dangle in your right hand, smoldering, until it burns out.

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He won the Whiting Award in 2013. Morgan is also an editor at 3 Quarks Daily, and a winner of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant. A book of Morgan’s selected essays can be found here. He can be reached at

How can I be cool like a poet? — A. H.


You’ve got to be kidding me. Most poets I know would not be classified as cool (except maybe Kim Addonizio — she’s pretty chic). But, you asked, so let’s see what we can discover from Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool”:

We real cool. We Left school. We

Lurk late. We Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We Die soon.

If you want to be cool like a poet, do the opposite of what the plural speaker does in this poem. First and foremost, stay in school. In fact, stay in school as long as you can. Take out student loans that you will be paying off for the rest of your life to do so. Second, get the recommended seven to eight… More…