I'm no poet (and I know it)

Writing under the influence of Erica Jong and deep in the delusional state that clouds the mind of a first time novelist, I decided to make the mother of my main character an infamous radical feminist poet. Handily enough, I had rafts of angsty, vaginesque poetry on hand; I'd been laboring over my portfolio since high school and had several pieces published in the college literary quarterly alongside other Janis Ian wannabes. When my novel was (cue the angel chorus) picked up by the wonderful small press (which later morphed into MacAdam-Cage) my editor thought I was spoofing on Jong and told me that one of the funniest elements in the book was her "god-awful, grotesquely hilarious poetry." (Cue the tuba plotz.)

My free verse hasn't seen the light of day since, but still I'm like Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife: "Dear me. Scraps of old poems. They keep wandering around like ghosts, hoping to get use someday."

Poetry is worth the effort, even if it's not particularly worth publishing. Processing thoughts in a framework of words, rhythm, and (if you're in the mood for it) rhyme -- that's how I process things. The tighter the form, the deeper you have to dig for the right words, examining the possibilities, turning the syllables like stones in your palm. I'm a compulsive list-maker, so sometimes the two forms combine in an interesting mental rug-hooking sort of way.

Example: I made this list in response to my first literary agent telling me, "You need to clearly define what you want to be."
What I want to be:
thoroughly loved
deliciously laid
consistently working
handsomely paid
smart in my business
true in my art
wise at the finish
brave at the start
occasionally humbled
appropriately proud
prone to be quiet
allowed to be loud
wholly welcome
sorely missed
predominantly peaceful
righteously pissed
rich without bitching
famous with reason
restful on Sabbath
productive in season
aware of my weakness
in awe of my power
profoundly grateful
alive every hour

It's an interesting meditative exercise. Give it a whirl and post the results in the comment section if you feel inclined to share.

(And click here for more of Doug Savage's hilarious "Savage Chickens.")


Love your "what I want to be" riff. Though I went through a Sylvia Plath/poetry phase and still love both, writing poetry takes such patience and devotion, it was faster to write novels. :)

By the way "vaginesque" may be the best new adjective ever!

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