• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Baa

In this week’s Sunday NYT magazine (not a particularly obscure reference, I realize), I was taken by something the poet Frederick Seidel said when asked to what he attributed the seventeen year silence between his first and second book. “Cowardice,” he said. 

When asked what he was afraid of, “The expression of aspects of the self that you understand or, rather, that you fancy may not be attractively expressed or attractive once expressed.” I take this to mean fear of looking bad. I guess that would be a fear when you write lines like, “A naked woman my age is just a total nightmare.” LOL. As if a naked man his age with a crepe nutsack and tits is a picnic. But that’s not my point.

What first attracted me to poetry was not what it revealed, so much as what it concealed. I  couldn’t understand half the poems I read, but I read them over and over. They held secrets, sometimes answers. I knew when something sounded true, even if I couldn’t articulate why. And I think I wrote poetry when I was young because I could hide there, in images and ellipses.

This all came to a grinding halt when a professor asked if I were intentionally trying to obfuscate meaning in my poems. Intentionally, well no. I then wrote some frank poems with titles like “Calories and Other Counts” and “Venus Envy.” And then, shortly after getting my MFA, I quit writing poems. Cowardice?

People sometimes ask me if I still write poems. No, no, no I quickly reply, as if I gave up sleeping with farm animals long ago. Nah, not me, haven’t touched a sheep in ages.

I would love to know what people think keeps them from writing (besides e-mail).

6 Responses

  1. I’ll bite:

    There’s already so much good stuff out there to read–by writers far better than them?
    The blank screen makes you feel like an ass?
    Writing makes you want to start smoking again?
    More ass feelings?

  2. Cowardice. That about covers it.

  3. Thanks for writing “crepe nutsack.”

  4. Fear, inertia and more fear.

  5. “As if a naked man his age with a crepe nutsack and tits is a picnic.”
    I come for the insights. I stay for the poetry.

  6. What keeps me from writing? Nothing really except everything seems to devolve into snark. I think I am a really good writer. I just don’t know how to get to the other side. That is, how to develop the story. How to end what I started.

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