Saturday, April 21, 2012

Poetry Month-Marge Piercy Poem

For me, the joy of being an artist is always in the work and the difficulties are in integrating that work into the rest of the world. I am doing a lot of thinking about it and hopefully soon some writing but in the meantime, I have this poem by Marge Piercy.

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 somebody 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.

1 comment:

Linda Dunn said...

thank you for this! Years ago I heard Ms Piercy read this, to an audience of art school students. It rings even clearer now, and I'll print out a copy for my college-bound daughter.

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