For the young who want to

Original Text: 
© Marge Piercy. Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982): 259-60. PS 3566 I4A6 1982
1Talent is what they say
2you have after the novel
3is published and favorably
4reviewed. Beforehand what
5you have is a tedious
6delusion, a hobby like knitting.
7Work is what you have done
8after the play is produced
9and the audience claps.
10Before that friends keep asking
11when you are planning to go
12out and get a job.
13Genius is what they know you
14had after the third volume
15of remarkable poems. Earlier
16they accuse you of withdrawing,
17ask why you don't have a baby,
18call you a bum.
20take workshops with fancy names
21when all you can really
22learn is a few techniques,
23typing instructions and some-
24body else's mannerisms
25is that every artist lacks
26a license to hang on the wall
27like your optician, your vet
28proving you may be a clumsy sadist
29whose fillings fall into the stew
30but you're certified a dentist.
31The real writer is one
32who really writes. Talent
34after the fact of fire.
35Work is its own cure. You have to
36like it better than being loved.
Copyright 1982 Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy Alfred A. Knopf


19] M.F.A.'s: Master of Fine Arts degrees. Back to Line
33] phlogiston: invisible hypothetical matter or `principle' thought to combine with all combustible bodies and be expelled during burning -- a concept popular in the 18th century but abandoned once oxygen was discovered. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
The Moon Is Always Female (1980): 84.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Marge Piercy, Leapfrog Press or Knopf permissions department.</b>