Thursday, August 17, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's theme for Poetry Thursday is....whatever the heck you want. So, another random poem, this one by Marge Piercy. In a way, this poem is sort of about what I want, does that count?


For the Young Who Want To

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

15 Comments:

Blogger j-love said...

I love that poem too. It's scary but ultimately true for writers. Years ago I wrote out that last line and a half, "You have to / like it better than being loved" and hung it over my desk as a reminder and as a motivation.

Years after that, I added Eminem's "Success is my only muthaf-in option; failure's not" which I also found useful! ha ha. An unlikely pairing, to be sure!

8/17/2006 9:52 AM  
Anonymous fringes said...

Thanks for sharing that poem, Rebecca. It's externally and internally validating.

8/17/2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger Lex Ham Rand said...

I love the fact that she referenced phlogiston, from a now-discarded theory about what actually happens when something burns.

And I like the spirit of the poem, too. We are a credential-worshipping society, but all a credential really means is that you are certified to start your career, not that you have actually accomplished anything in your career.

8/17/2006 12:13 PM  
Blogger January said...

Great poem for today. Yep, that's the kind of poet and writer I want to be--one who doesn't just say it but does it.

I think Robert Creely (and I could be wrong about this, so I'm paraphrasing) said that to be a poet, you have to be willing to make an ass out of yourself. But Piercy's poem says it much better.

8/17/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Jennifer, welcome. That is an odd pairing but inspiration sometimes comes from unexpected places.

I found this poem by accident and it spoke to me. I especially love that last line, although I hope one doesn't cancel out the other.

8/17/2006 3:19 PM  
Blogger wendylou who? said...

oh how I love this poem. I think you are driven by poetry...you can run away...and want to be happy instead...but poetry will find you..and EAT UP YOUR HEAD...haha..just kidding...great poem. Thanks for sharing!!

8/17/2006 5:31 PM  
Blogger twitches said...

Love Marge Piercy - she's got a sharp tongue and a great attitude.

8/17/2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Great poem, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing it. :)

8/17/2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger Superhero Activist said...

I settled into Marge Piercy's words after I read "Barbie Doll", stubbornly refusing to break free from the hold her writing had on me at the time. I am so glad you posted this, this as my summer winds to a closed, filled with languid streams of poetry and reflective pools of thought, but nothing in the way of a paycheck.

Yet, I have never been more fulfilled.

Such great words by such a great poet. Wonderful choice to capture the essence to be free.

8/17/2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

A few new faces today, welcome to you all. Although I must say, now I'm a little worried that poetry is going to eat my head. :)

8/17/2006 10:04 PM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

I think I coulld take this poem as my own private anthem!! Thanks so much - hadn't come across this one before.

8/18/2006 1:57 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Chiefbiscuit, glad you liked it. I think it speaks to all writers, everywhere.

8/18/2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger briliantdonkey said...

Not much I can add that hasn't already been said. Thanks for the poem Rebecca, funny your choice of words" it spoke to me"....that is what I was thinking as I was reading it.

BD

8/19/2006 2:58 AM  
Blogger Verity said...

A fantastic poem, thanks for sharing it. It'll help me on those many cold nights why I wonder why the heck I write!

8/19/2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Rob, Verity, glad you liked it.

8/19/2006 9:58 AM  

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