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Thursday, November 21, 2013

44

Poetry: A Love Story

I’m going to talk about loving myself. But don’t be scared. I’m not going to hug myself. I am not going to look in the mirror and tell myself I am a beautiful woman. I am definitely not going to take a smaller mirror and look at my vagina, though if you want to give me 50 bucks, I totally will. What I am going to do is discuss loving myself in terms of not loving poetry.

I am a person of extreme likes and dislikes, but the visceral nature of my response to poetry has always surprised even me. Let’s skip over the childhood experiences because there’s not much to say except that, yes, I didn’t even like Shel Silverstein.

Prufrock. The Iliad. Shakespeare’s Sonnets. I don’t care how good it is, I don’t like it. I am sure at some point I wrote a paper about one of these works or similar in which I refused to answer the question and just went off about how much I didn’t like verse. I probably got a B, and I probably complained that I didn’t get an A. About all I can say in my defense is at least this was during the '80s and '90s and my parents didn’t complain about it as well.

During my freshman year of college, in the comp class they made us take so we could all soak in the austere joylessness integral to the school’s brand, we read Elizabeth Bishop, and she quickly became my least favorite poet. It seemed appropriate that Bishop should write about Maine, as poetry and Maine were both things I tried to like, felt guilty about not liking, and in the act of trying to like liked even less. Bishop’s fawning treatment of Maine seemed so unnecessary. People already jizz all over Maine, even though it's cold, covered with rocks, and its only selling point is that it’s a good place to stand shivering while someone prompts you to exclaim, “Gorgeous!" What did Maine need with Bishop further rhapsodizing about its “indifferent sea”? Why did she have to say “shoreward” instead of “toward the shore?” Why “emerald moss” and not just “green moss?” And truly, would there have been any crime in just calling it moss? It’s not as if we didn’t know what color moss was. (I said things like that in class because we were supposed to talk, and in the wake of my comments the room would fall silent, and the professor would say nothing, or just, “No. Anyone else?”) By far, my least favorite part of this particular poem (well, tied with the part where the narrator speaks to the old fisherman about “the decline in fish population” which, I’ll bet, Bishop did not give a shit about) was this: “if you should dip your hand in, your wrist would ache immediately, your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn as if the water were a transmutation of fire.” I remembered that I had once told someone, “The water in Maine is so cold that it almost feels hot,” and it filled me with rage how much better my description was. Transmutation of fire? Ache twice?

My college adviser was also my comp teacher and, believing that a disdain for verse was unacceptable in an English major, prescribed to me in my sophomore year a class devoted entirely to its study. About 50 people took this class with me—Poetry 11—and as they sat there in what seemed to be rapt attention I spent my time marveling that the room was a perfect temperature. I did this by holding my hand in front of my face and squeezing the air. (It occurs to me now that the very idea you could squeeze air in your hand is made possible by the existence of poetry.)

For our last assignment, we all had to write a 10-page paper about a book by a poet whose name I will leave out because he is not only still alive but not even terribly old. I remember being indignant at what a thin volume it was, and seeing that his life’s work, at middle age, consisted of similarly thin volumes, I thought bitterly to myself, “Well, excuse me, but some of us have to work for a living.” This is hilarious considering at that time I had barely worked an honest day in my life, and, as I eventually became a freelance writer, according to many observers, never would.  At any rate, this book was a dreadful bore, utterly impossible to bear alone. My formerly rapt classmates and I read it out loud to each other while howling with laughter, but as the deadline loomed, we quit laughing and began instead to rend our garments.  What could we possibly find to say about these poems about nothing? Well, to be fair, the beauty of leaves falling off a tree is something, the smell of bread is something, but it is my feeling that a single sentence is entirely sufficient space in which to praise both; you don’t need an entire poem. To craft even one phrase about this book was a struggle, to dream up an entire idea: a miracle. A fellow classmate became everyone’s hero when she managed to take up two whole pages contemplating the ways that the poet’s work focused on “a departure from a return,” which was, of course, nonsense. Today, almost 25 years after that class, I texted “departure from a return” to another classmate and he wrote back, “lol.”

But I was surprised to discover that my friends had enjoyed other poems we’d read in the class. “Sure, the guy we had to write about was horrible,” they said, “But didn’t you like William Carlos Williams? Or Walt Whitman? Or Emily Dickinson?” But I didn’t like any of it. I could read a poem and think, “Oh, OK, that’s nice.” For example, the idea of those cold plums in the icebox gave me a moment of mild enjoyment, but it didn’t vibrate, it didn’t have the power of the sermon at the beginning of Moby-Dick, or the scene in Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth Bennett essentially tells Lady Catherine De Bourgh to go fuck herself, or, for that matter, every moment of John Water’s autobiography, Shock Value. Poems seem to me almost something, but a something that hasn’t quite arrived, and this is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that movies that are called poetic are almost always boring.

In another class that same semester, I read "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope. This professor said that this poem was in part about blaming the colonization of India, etc., on women and their desire for nice stuff: “And decks the Goddess with the glitt'ring Spoil/ This Casket India's glowing Gems unlocks/ And all Arabia breathes from yonder Box.” I thought, OK, now we are getting somewhere. I felt a vibration. But it was the idea that vibrated for me—not the poem itself. I especially disliked its satirical qualities, how delighted it was with its own cleverness without ever prompting anything like a real laugh. It reminded me of a child who hides in the shadows, casting coy looks, daring you to resist its cuteness, while all the while you think, "Really, it's fine. You can stay there!"

The first poem I ever really liked was Sylvia Plath’s "Morning Song." Having never once been affected in any emotional way by a poem in my life, I was surprised that I burst into tears at the first line: “Love set you going like a fat gold watch.” I think I was reacting to the idea of having had no choice in being born, and then being forced to keep ticking, forever, whether I wanted to or not. Later on in the poem I liked Plath’s use of the phrase “cow-heavy” to describe breasts, which is remarkable considering that these sort of invented compound words (they are called “kennings”) are the part of most poems I like least. But in this case, Plath came up with the absolute best way to describe the way large, braless breasts sway underneath loose clothes, and thus, got what I shall hereafter refer to as a "kenning pass," though I never plan to issue another. After “Morning Song” I read all of Plath’s poems, and pronounced them all fantastic, and wondered how it had come to be that there was only one good poet in the world.

But then I liked another poem, by another poet. It was "The Yellow Star That Goes With Me," by Jessica Greenbaum. In it, Greenbaum imagines—oh, wait. This is one of the reasons I hate writing about literature. You have to use terms like, “In this poem Greenbaum imagines” which sounds so horrible, and yet, how else do you say that?—Greenbaum imagines being in a concentration camp, and how there is no way for her to understand the experience except in increments that are nothing like the experience at all. As she puts it, being really freezing cold between the shower and the towel, or riding on a crowded train, are no more like the experience of being in a concentration camp than the expression “dying of thirst” is anything like really dying of thirst. I was so pleased with myself that I finally liked yet another poem, by someone who wasn’t Plath, and I showed it to a friend who writes poems. And she said the poem was OK, but that it was too obvious. I didn't understand that. Was it really so wrong, when reading a poem, to know exactly where you were, to understand exactly why someone was saying something, what they meant? Were poems only good if they were somehow coy and opaque?

The reason I liked Plath’s poems was because I knew about her life and you never had to wonder what was going on: You read and said to yourself, these are all about a person who wants to die.

Ten years passed and I decided to try another poem. Another Jessica Greenbaum poem. I read “I Had Just Hung Up From Talking To You” and after I finished it, all I could think about were the personal details missing from the poem. Who was this friend of hers? What was wrong with him? I actually googled her ("Jessica Greenbaum divorce," "Jessica Greenbaum family," "Jessica Greenbaum estranged") but there was nothing. I realized then that the reason I liked Plath’s poems was because I knew about her life and you never had to wonder what was going on: You read and said to yourself, these are all about a person who wants to die.

At the end of the poetry class I went to my adviser’s office. During our conversation he stared out the window as if he were considering stepping out of it onto the lawn and just walking away. He asked me how I liked the poetry class. I said that I had no idea what anyone was talking about and generally couldn’t bring myself to care. He asked what I wanted to do with myself after college. I said I wanted to be a writer. He said, “Well, you don’t seem to possess any talent.” I was shocked. I thought surely something special, some charm peeked out from the lines of my unspectacular papers, and I think I suggested something like this, and he said something like, no, wrong. Part of me wanted to die of shame.  But then a voice inside me spoke up: “Well at least I will never tell my readers what fucking color moss is.” It then added, “This man likes Elizabeth Bishop, for God’s sake. He does not know anything. You are the only one who knows anything.” I figured if I told myself this a few thousand times, I would start to believe it.

I have always felt that to like poetry I would have to become another person, one who wasn’t just really obvious, who thought about things a lot before opening my mouth, who was more dependably capable of enjoying a subtle experience, and who had questions about life other than, “Oh my God, what did she say when he said that?” and, “So are they getting back together?” and, “How much?” It would be such an effort to be this person, the person who could savor the idea of cold plums and stand in front of the Emily Dickinson Museum and marvel, “Wow, she wrote all those poems in there” instead of, “I wonder what that place would look like with a bigger porch.” But at this point I worry what might become of me if I wasn’t just always eager to get to the most basic part of things—the story, the joke, the explosion, the re-model. I would have to start all over.

I’m going to level with you. At the end of a yoga class the other day the teacher read a poem called "Become Becoming" by someone named Li-Young Lee and I got chills, and then lay there, throbbing with the thought, I am going to die someday. And then, just a few minutes ago, I read the Elizabeth Bishop poem "One Art" and gasped at the end, which probably means it is a pretty good poem. But I have to sort of stand by hating poetry, because somewhere, deep in the fabric of the universe, there’s a 19-year-old girl, standing in her college adviser’s office, afraid that everyone in the world except for her understands what matters, and I just can’t bring myself to betray her.

 

 

Previously: My Valiant Battle Against a Loud Co-Co-Worker, Part I

Photo via netsrac/flickr.

Sarah Miller is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl. She lives in Nevada City, CA. Follow her on Twitter @sarahlovescali.



44 Comments / Post A Comment

myeviltwin

I only started liking poetry when I started reading it out of interest and not because it was assigned to me in school. I am on a Louis Jenkins kick right now. I still dislike about 80% of the poems that I read, but those 20% that gut you at the end of the poem -- they stay with you.

melmuu

LOVE this! Thank you for writing this. So happy to see Li-Young Lee pop up at the end, too. He was one of the first poets I fell in love with. The City In Which I Love You is so, so good.

khaleesi

@melmuu Just read The City In Which I Love You. Speechless. That's exactly the kind of poetry I like. Thank you so much for mentioning it.

dontannoyme

Love this! I actually do like some poetry but mainly for the rhythm and the musicality (which is why they must rhyme or else it's cheating) and not for the pronouncements about cold plums. I recommend you never read Ted Hughes drivelling on about animals. Although Ogden Nash, yes.

madeleineld

I also spent a lot of time feeling like I was someone who didn't like poetry, and that idea was chipped away just by various poems I found that I liked (I kept on making excuses--well, maybe I only like poetry that rhymes and has clever linguistic strategies; or, okay, maybe only if it sounds beautiful, or--until I realized I just like some poetry and didn't like some poetry.

Sarah Miller's reasoning is better than mine though--rather than standing up to some banking-method academic bullshit, I'm pretty sure I was rebelling against the kind of person who talked about how they loooooved poetry--I thought of myself as being kind of like the equivalent of Beavis and Butthead in that episode where they go to the art museum. PROUDLY! Sigh.

tulliola

"how delighted it was with its own cleverness without ever prompting anything like a real laugh"
"how delighted it was with its own cleverness without ever prompting anything like a real laugh"
"how delighted it was with its own cleverness without ever prompting anything like a real laugh"

leonstj

My main problem with poetry is that poets are always comparing shit to fruit nobody eats.

Everything is sweet as persimmons. C'mon, poets. People eat fuckin' grapes & strawberries and little slices of orange our moms give us after our soccer games. Write some poems about goddamn orange slices.

(ilu poetry <3)

tulliola

@leonstj william carlos williams got u covered (sorry)

leonstj

@leonstj he gets points for oranges. I'm not sure how I feel about plums, even if they are so sweet & delicious.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I like some poetry, and I liked this piece because it seems pretty honest. I will say, though, that there's nothing wrong with a color modifier on something like moss, because whether you care or not, it does come in various shades of green.

khaleesi

PERFECT. I loved this Sarah, kudos to you for a great article. As a literature grad, I've always struggled with poetry and short stories which is why this line of yours really resonated with me: "But at this point I worry what might become of me if I wasn’t just always eager to get to the most basic part of things—the story, the joke, the explosion, the re-model. I would have to start all over."

And so did how you googled Jessica Greenbaum after reading “I Had Just Hung Up From Talking To You.” I like some poetry and short stories where I can really appreciate turns of phrases, and the language used. But I don't love them and get immersed the way I do in novels. I want the story, I want to get to know characters and figure out what's going on. Poetry always leaves me wanting more. Like just as soon as I get into it and interested, its over.

I also feel like I'm usually too dumb to get it, I'll read it and be like that was really nice, I loved the language in it but have absolutely no idea what it's about.

daisicles

@khaleesi Yeah, I've struggled with poetry and trying to explain it for ages; it only got worse when I shipped off to study literature in a place where virtually all the significant 20th century writers are poets. There is no escape then. I've been a bit terrified of explicating poetry ever since.

I think I'm happier when I just look at a poem along the lines of 'did I like it? Okay' and skip trying to explain why, even to myself. I don't bother trying to figure out the meaning because the odds are pretty good that I just like the rhythm of the words. (I once scandalised a friend by criticising a Yeats poem that turned out to be her favorite because I thought it sounded clunky when read aloud. Sorry!)

I mean, I enjoy looking at certain paintings, but I don't feel the need to understand why I do or even what they mean, so why do I feel like I need to understand all that about a poem?

tofuswalkman

@daisicles thank you for the comment about paintings. no one looks at visual art and complains of not knowing the author's full biography or "what the work means exactly." frankly, i find that biographical information tends to hinder (even destroy) art (especially literature) more than help it.

daisicles

@tofuswalkman I used to worry about not really understanding visual art sometimes, but then I went on a class trip to an art museum in college. I was standing looking at a photograph, just struck by it but not knowing why, and my professor wandered by and said something about how art just strikes us sometimes and that thinking about why it did could be a much more interesting way to experience it. That really resonated with me and I've kept it in mind since then.

But I don't know that I completely agree that biographical information destroys art more than helps it. Some artists put more of themselves into their work than others and knowing a bit of biographical information can sometimes, I think, help illuminate the work a bit. I don't mean the sort of reading where you match events in stories to events in the author's life, because that's far too literal, but knowing that, say, a writer grew up in this place with this particular set of circumstances can bring out interesting thematic elements (or clarify what would otherwise be puzzling imagery). Everything arises from a context, I feel, and not all of it can stand alone absent that context.

But there is such a thing as too much information and it can hinder reactions to art, I would definitely agree with that.

chickpeas akimbo

I don't like poetry as a genre, but I do like some individual poems. I prefer direct language, and I think (know) that direct language can be beautiful and a joy to read. A lot of poems seem to me to be memorable turns of phrase that don't add up to much. Also: too short. I dislike short stories for the same reason.

ru_ri

One of my longstanding personal commandments is "thou shalt not commit poetry."

And that professor can go shit in a hat, Sarah Miller, cause you are one of my favorite writers on the 'Pin.

And also, have you ever associated with actual poets? I have found the ratio of assholes to be far higher than in groups of regular people. I am instantly suspicious when someone cops to writing poetry.

That said, I admit to having been moved, on occasion, by a poem.

pollypeachum

I knew a fellow English major in college that didn't like poetry, plays, novels, or short stories. She didn't like the other major she was in either. The only real conversation I ever had with her was an argument over Lent and even that was confusing.
I still don't understand why anyone would want to be an English major and not like anything in it. Did she like the critical theory portion of it????? I don't know.
(pssst my personal favorite poem right now is "On Raglan Road" by Patrick Kavanagh)

daisicles

@pollypeachum ...did she like essays, at least? When I was an undergrad, I used to side-eye the English education majors who bitched about having to read a whole chapter of a book, but I can't fathom an English major who just didn't like any of the reading.

pollypeachum

@daisicles I remember she liked writing essays, but then again everyone did but me (I'm one of the rare ones who actually prefers tests because you study and BAM test is done while my perfectionist side comes out writing essays).

Slanted & Enchanted

@pollypeachum I knew a fellow English major who wanted to teach elementary school Language Arts, so she never bothered to read any of the books because they "didn't matter in the long run." Why not just major in Education then? I could not understand it. In our last year, we were in the same Contemporary Lit class and she still never read anything. I can understand substituting Sparknotes for Paradise Lost or Great Expectations, but to not be able to bring yourself to read Never Let Me Go or The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao? At that point it seems like you just hate reading.

Also, as someone who went to 13 years of Catholic school, I really want to know what the Lent argument was about, haha.

daisicles

@pollypeachum But on the tests, you have to write essays anyway, so you still have the perfectionist stuff and then hand cramps too, no? Or was this just my department? It used to stress me out because I was invariably one of the last people out of the room during test season because I just had to write a bit more on the evil, evil essays.

@Slanted & Enchanted Those are the people who concern me. They want to teach kids about books and writing and such, but they don't want to read anything? Really?

pollypeachum

@daisicles Nah, for a test essay it was just WRITE IT DOWN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE and then go home. With papers you have research and cover pages and bibliography and way too much procrastination.

pollypeachum

@Slanted & Enchanted It was more that she found I refused to give up something for Lent because that isn't what my family did and then she proceeded to give me hell about it because "DON'T YOU KNOW WE DO THAT TO SYMBOLIZE JESUS DYING ON THE CROSS FOR US?" because giving up chocolate for Lent=being crucified.
Why yes, I did go to a Catholic college (and a Catholic high school).

Lucienne

Ah, man, I really love "The Rape of the Lock." I dunno.

tulliola

@Lucienne Pope's (and everybody's, basically) pages of rhyming couplets drive me craaazzayyy. I hate the way they sound for more than a few lines. I actually really love parts of "Eloisa to Abelard" and think they are just sublimely beautiful ("How happy is the blameless vestal's lot / the world forgetting and by the world forgot"), but I cannot read the whole thing in its entirety.

SarahP

The first poem I think of when I think of Elizabeth Bishop is “One Art,” and for writing that poem I think she has earned a million dusty dry poems about Maine. (But I totally understand what you’re saying—poetry isn’t the art form I feel this way about, but there are some I have similar feelings for.)

nothingcutesy

Oh, thank god. I struggled through the poetry section of my creative writing classes, seemingly the only person who wasn't moved by every poem in our syllabus. I've found poems nice or sometimes funny (mainly a Pam Ayres poem about a kid who doesn't want to go to school) but I never really *got* poetry. So nice to see that I'm not alone!

Also - 'He asked what I wanted to do with myself after college. I said I wanted to be a writer. He said, “Well, you don’t seem to possess any talent.”' BEEN HERE. One professor, at the end of our degree, sat with each student individually to talk about their career prospects, giving them advice and contacts and being generally helpful. When he got to me, he sighed, and then said "Well, you can probably just keep teaching dancing, right?". Umm, no, I did not plan on carrying on with my underpaying cash-in-hand dance teacher job after spending 3 years studying my arse off. Funny thing is, I'm still in the industry I studied for, unlike 99% of my fellow students. I wonder what goes through these teachers heads...

Brunhilde

You're the first writer to adequately explain why I fucking hate poetry so as a writer I think you're top notch!

harebell

by the end of the essay you admit that you actually like quite a number of poems -- so why hold onto the idea of "hating poetry"?? that just seems pointlessly self-limiting, even as a comic essay. and not very new or brave to write about -- plenty of people have this attitude.

also, moss comes in more than one color!

Cat named Virtute

@harebell Agree so much. I don't like "novels," I like novels with intriguing psychological portraits or lushly described landscapes or imaginative use of language. People act like poetry is this monolith that you are either for or against, and it's so frustrating to me.

YoungCrone

There is a lot of crap poetry out there, poetry that tries too hard to be clever and just winds up opaque. But I have a hard time imagining being someone who loves the possibilities words have in other contexts, but insists that moss can only be "green" and not "emerald." This intrigues me!

For me, the poetry that snagged me was haiku. If you can find traditional Japanese haiku that have been translated well, they are the bomb. There's no room in a haiku for useless words, so the writer had to use only the ones that would pack a punch (although that might include "emerald").

Father Brown

Wow, I'm surprised people were so charitable about this mess. Am I missing something? Was this tongue-in-cheek? I have so many questions.

How on earth has nobody pointed out that the person who wrote War and Peace is NOT the same person who "I Bless You, Forests?" How is it possible to have read Leo Tolstoy and not have alarm bells go off when reading that poem? It didn't sound anything like him. I need to stop, this is making me mad.

SamanthaBei1

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Cat named Virtute

"I hate poetry" god, so does almost everyone, this is not new or exciting.
Poets know most people don't want to put in the effort to figuring out whether a poem about the coast of Maine could possibly be anything more than a list of descriptions, and we know that most people just want plot and explication. It's not like we're marching in the street persecuting you for having a limited idea of our genre. It's not that people who dislike poetry are bad people, but spending 1000+ words on your indifference is really not telling anyone anything new.
Imagine writing a column against painting that says that while you're rather taken with a Rembrandt here and a Vermeer there, why would anyone want to look at an inexact rendering of a scene that doesn't even and did you know that some paintings don't look like anything at all?!
For people who like the idea of poetry but struggle with it, I strongly recommend Arc Poetry magazine's How Poems Work column. Lemon Hound has a similar column, and this one is especially good.

(Hoping this posts this time. I think my last one got stuck in the spam filter).

alliepants

@Cat named Virtute What I don't understand is why anyone would write a column against any sort of art form? Like, I'd totally understand a post about how it's absurd that a professor forced a student to take a full year's worth of poetry classes knowing full well it wasn't her favorite genre. But like, being anti-poetry? That's like being anti-song. I mean, maybe she hates music. It's possible. Maybe that'll be next in the line of columns that all generally boil down to "hey guys! Why don't you read me hate on something for a little while, and then read while I get all self-conscious about the fact I like to hate on things and try to make it endearing."

I suppose blog posts about the writer being too cool for various things is its own art form, I guess. I've found a few I like, and they can be fun to read, but ya know, I don't think I get it. Probably not for me, but there's nothing wrong with it, so she can keep on keepin' on.

Cat named Virtute

@alliepants I can understand criticizing because it has an active negative influence on your life, like restrictive abortion laws or movies that always star white people, but I literally do not understand what is to be gained by taking a shit all over an art form that's not even very popular nowadays. If we're going to be myopic or navel-gazing, can we at least be funny, original, or thought-provoking?

fruitcakewriter

I despised poetry when I was college, and I also hated literary symbolism. I never got the point. I quite being an English major. After college, I became an advertising copywriter, and later a freelance writer. I now am a collection librarian and buy fiction for a living. I love certain poems, but there are many that I don't understand and don't want to. I've met authors and asked them about symbolism in their work. They have told me that the critics have made up the interpretations, and that they, the authors, never thought about those symbols when they wrote the pieces. I am glad I became a history major and just enjoy literature for fun.

Cat named Virtute

@fruitcakewriter Literary scholars don't go looking for symbolism because of some sort of fun authorial-intent scavenger hunt, they do it to understand literature in the context of social movements, historical events, other literature of the time, and the human condition. Just because some author didn't intend for a symbol to be read as it is doesn't mean a) that that is an illegitimate interpretation of the work or b) that it doesn't say something about literature or the world that goes beyond the author. Critics don't "make up" interpretations, they make observations that synthesize literary works with bigger ideas. We don't still talk about Freudian analysis in literature because we think Freud was actually right about human psychology, we talk about Freud because the narratives he offered turn-of-the-century Europe and beyond influenced how people thought about psychology and motive, and how that translated into fiction, drama, and poetry.

MissDewey

I only like poetry that makes me cry. Anything by A.E. Housman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Stephen Crane, some Keats, Yeats and Wordsworth. And these:
"Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?" -Question by May Swenson

"Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live." - Resume by Dorothy Parker

Joanna Norbeck@facebook

Your college advisor was an insecure narcissistic d-head, a type who often populate academia. Nothing gives him the right to sit in judgment on whether someone else has talent, and nothing gives him the authority. If he had talent, he would be a writer, not a professor. So he obviously doesn't know what talent is. Every time I hear a story like this from academia, I wish that students could sue for malpractice. People like him really shouldn't be unleashed on undergrads. I'm so sorry you had this experience, but you're right. At least you'll never tell anyone what color moss is! And you're the writer, not a professor, so obviously you have talent. Plus, most of talent is all about practice, practice, practice anyway. http://www.radiolab.org/story/91971-secrets-of-success/
Best wishes for a long and enjoyable career,
Joanna
A former academic who likes poetry, but not professors

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