For the young who want to

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 and get a job.

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,
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 and some-
body else’s mannerisms

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 like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

By Marge Piercy

8 Responses to “For the young who want to”
  1. What a wonderful poem. I completely concur.

  2. I love this Melissa! The ideas expressed in your poem are the reason why I called my blog “It’s Real To Me”.

  3. Lindy Lee says:

    Exactly, succinctly correct…

  4. Thomas Davis says:

    There is truth in this poem. The muse has a lot of veils, however, and when he/she dances the veils swirl in multiple colors, all of which are difficult to focus on, until, at last, through a teacher, hard work, genius, or just happenstance, elixir happens and there is the stuff of which you as a writer or artist or poet are made. The path you take to find art is the path you take. I write because I am obsessed by writing and have been obsessed since I was a child. Is what I write any good? I am a poor judge of that, I’m afraid, but it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow I will be trying to write anyway.

Write. Talk. Tell me everything.

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