Friday, July 2, 2010

For the young who want to

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.

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.

Posted with permission of the poet.
Copyright Marge Piercy
from Circles on the Water,
Alfred A. Knopf, New York

Marge Piercy's A Work of Artifice stayed with me long after I read it.


Author Amok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha. (Sorry -- had my schedule wrong for PF!)

I really like what Piercy has to say in the last two lines of this poem.

Irene Latham said...

Work is its own cure... Marge is a wise soul. Thanks for sharing this poem!

Toby Speed said...

Despite having to look up "phlogiston," and still not really knowing what it means, I like this poem very much. Thanks for sharing it!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

That is a very scary poem. But somehow comforting. Thx.