Monday, October 24, 2011

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.

I'm looking through a book called "PoetSpeak" a selection by Paul B. Janeczko, the whole idea is that the poets comment on "their favorite work." The first poem I read (not this one) gave this beautiful explanation after the poem about him as a child and what the poem meant and why the images were so great. I felt that that should have been part of the poem. I want to create pieces where the beauty is intact.

This poem I connected with so I wanted to share it. I feel like this some times. I like that she doesn't need an explanation she's pretty clear in what she writes, or else I connect to it and understand. Oh and I called the Library today and made an appointment with the writer in residence to look at my work, I'm scared because I feel like I'm not good enough, like I should be able to work this out on my own, and every book I've ever read tells me to go beyond that feeling. And I'm excited to talk to a person about what to do next.


  1. The poem resonated for me too. Thank you for introducing it to me.

    I am fascinated that your library has a weiter in residence for you to consult with. That is marvelous, and I am so proud of you for making the appointment. Will be so interested to learn more later. :)

  2. um. I meant "writer" in residence!

  3. You have to begin somewhere, Duncan. How else will you develop? I'm all for the sentiments of this poem and fr your efforts here.

  4. Lydia I took my writing in and am awaiting an appointment I'll keep you updated

    Elisabeth writing has given me so much of a life that I wouldn't have had otherwise I'm proud of the person it's made me no matter what else happens that's the talent