work is its own cure…

I haven’t been writing a great deal of poetry lately. It may be simply that my mind is overrun with a number of other things, commitments, transitions, what have you…but suffice it to say the most I’ve done is wrestle with editing the poems I have on hand. Lord, I hate editing.

So for Poetry Tuesday I thought I would introduce you to another poet I like an awful lot. I’ve loved Marge Piercy’s work since I was a teenager. My mother purchased “The moon is always female” for me I think in High School and that one phrase has haunted me ever since. Her work was formative for me, as a writer, as a poet, as a woman.

It’s no accident that when I went searching for a poem today that this is what I stumbled upon…enjoy this today-


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.

Marge Piercy




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