Look, I’m not getting much sleep lately,
so chalk this up to grumpiness, if you want.
Or the back spasms…
And I’m no prude, believe me.
But I am a man who’s old, so most
of you would’t notice me on the street.
I’m a tad bitter about that, you might say,
but have learned what’s important.
Maybe, you could just listen.
I get it: Sex sells,
fantasy sex sells cars and everything else..
All those selfies of you on FB, Instagram,
You posed coyly just to show your good side,
your amazing boobs or butt, the come-hither look.
(And yes, I notice. ) Continue reading “Dear Ladies”
You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always
think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught.
Self-doubt Can Be An Ally
Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
You Must Read Everything
You must read everything, and you must let it all the way into your life, all the way into the part of you that makes writing, and you must let every good thing in — none of this reading a few lines of so-and-so with the hope that you might write something that sounds like it.
“In “Mean Free Path,” a collection of poetry published in 2010, Ben Lerner kicked off a stanza like this: “There must be an easier way to do this/I mean without writing.”
That central anxiety — a sense that great ideas tend to become a little discombobulated during the difficult act of putting them into words — hovers over and haunts “The Hatred of Poetry,” an extended essay that hinges on the impossibility of writing poetry. There is something impossibly knotty about the arguments it makes, too. The book comes across as such a cerebral curio that (like Mr. Lerner’s thinky and digressive novels, “Leaving the Atocha Station” and “10:04”) it’s almost impossible to describe.
Let’s try. (Although if we were to give up trying, Mr. Lerner would probably applaud.) The gist: A lot of people seem to hate poetry, which is arguably neck-and-neck with mime as the most animus-attracting of art forms. Loathing rains down on poetry, from people who have never read a page of it as well as from people who have devoted their lives to reading and writing it. Pivoting off a provocative line by Marianne Moore — “I, too, dislike it.” — Mr. Lerner admits that he can relate to the haters. Hostility, he suggests, qualifies as a crucial mode in which poetry and human beings start a conversation with each other. Antipathy is the entry point.