Friday, October 29, 2004

New: Marge Piercy's "For the Young Who Want To"

Friday: Time for a new poem!

First, you may have noticed by the little icon on right side of the page that I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) beginning Monday, November 1. (If you're wondering what this is, check out Since all of my free time--minus the poetry for my workshop, minus the memoir writing classwork, minus the memoir itself--will be spent engaged in the frantic literary pursuit of writing a novel in thirty days. So, if I don't post much, that's why.

Now the poem (from _Modern American Poetry_):

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 a certified 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

[Phlogiston: "a hypothetical elemement that some early scientists, before the discovery of oxygen, believed to be present in all combustible substances to make them burn" (from Encarta online,]

This poem seems very appropriate to me these days, spending so much time writing and having very little published as yet. But, I must say, that the more I write, the more I enjoy the process of writing itself, with all of its grinding difficulty and occassional elation. I think in the past I actually enjoyed having written more than I liked writing; now, I like writing for itself.


Josse said...

this is such a totally awesome poem I'm going to steal it for my blog. thanks for posting this Amy

iamnasra said...

For the Young Who Want To

Its really touching poem
I would like to share my poem with you

In every night
I wander
If this gift of God
The granted talent
Would last me another day
Will words appear?
Weaving poetic verses
From just no where
Except through the voice of this soul
In such calm water
Unexpectedly a bubble will appear
Awaking the sleeping lake
No matter how much
I fetch within me
I’m a blank page
The inspiration is not weaved by days
It’s not a fruit of tedious labor
My poetry is…
A spur gift of God

copyright 2005 nasra al adawi

sigmund fraud said...

" ...talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire."

This was a good poem.