"For the Young Who Want To"
by Marge Piercy
|An artist toils away at his craft.|
"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
|A gold record is a means of artistic validation.|
"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,
and 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,
|Is chasing papers the best course of action?|
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
AFTER the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure.
You have to like IT
better than BEING LOVED.