Friday, January 11, 2008

Poetry Friday: For The Young Who Want To

I sent it to her on December 14th and relished the holidays like a college student after final exams. But low in my mind buzzed a swarm of short sentences; small, stinging flies that needed to be smacked time after time: "It stinks. It's no good. It's a pile of —"

Yesterday was report card day. Her email winged into my box, making my pulse quicken like it did in eighth grade when that Irish redhead walked to my desk for the first time. "So not to keep you in suspense," she wrote. "I like it!"

I shouted and squeezed the nearest son, the one studying the Middle Ages. He nodded and smiled and focused on his flash cards; he's been through this before.

I've written several books now, and still the process is no less agonizing. So to any writers and the writer wannabes visiting the Fire Escape on this cold and rainy Massachusetts Poetry Friday, I give you Marge Piercy's poem about true talent:

For the young who want to
BY MARGE PIERCY

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 ...

Read the rest here.

8 comments:

Tricia said...

I love this, though I find it -- disheartening? I'm not sure that's the right word, but she certainly has captured the work that real writers face.

Thanks for sharing!

TadMack said...

I gasped sharply when I read the sentence,

Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,


-- and thought, "My goodness. My LIFE!"

I think this isn't meant to be comforting, in a way, except as in the rough comfort of snow on a frostbitten face. It's reality. It's... my life. You're never there 'til your there in some eyes, so you must love the writing for itself, or you'll never get 'there.'

Thank you Tali -- love this one and love Marge Piercy!!

Kelly Fineman said...

This one is strangely supportive, even though it's brutal. Because it tells the truth, which is better than a white-wash.

Thank you for sharing it.

jama said...

This is one of my favorite Piercy poems. Thanks for sharing it, and I'm glad "she liked it!"

Elaine Magliaro said...

Mitali,

I've liked this poem since the first time I read it. There really is so much that's true in what Piercy wrote.

Sara said...

I was thinking, just this afternoon, about how it never will get easier, because I always want to go further and higher. I always want to bite off more than I can chew, you know?

I think writers have be comfortable with some level of uncomfortableness, always, and Piercy expresses that so well.

So glad you got a good email!

Cloudscome said...

I'm so glad to hear you got that great email! Yay she liked it!

I find this poem discouraging too - but it's also comforting to hear it from Percy and know it's not just me. I'm glad to be part of it all.

scribe said...

Knitting gives you a beret, mittens, socks. Nothing delusional about that. Knitters are content, or so they seem to me, when they're knitting. Knitting can keep aspiring writers from going insane! It's a noble and praiseworthy thing. Any knitters out there?