Limericks to a Young Poet.
[Originally published January 29, 2013]
I. Take First Workshop. Major in Creative Writing. Dedicate Self to Life of Art.
An “Intro to” class introduces
the common poetic abuses
(to “tell” is the worst).
In the basics you’re versed.
A future of workshops seduces.
II. Get an MFA. Develop Poetic Voice. Begin to Shape First Book with Special Attention to “Arc.”
Now think like an entrepreneur,
because you must humbly procure
some coattails to ride—
leave greatness implied:
we both know your work will endure.
III. Briefly Contemplate Leaving Academe to Live and Write in “Real World.” Apply to 20 PhD Programs.
To write in seclusion’s destructive.
Besides, having peers is productive.
A stipend is nice—
nine grand will suffice.
“Real life” versus yours is reductive.
IV. Adjunct, Walk Dogs, Pick Apples, Donate Plasma, Teach High School. Above All, Have Gritty Experiences. Secure Tenure-Track Job.
Acquire a working-class bio.
Try riding a bus through Ohio.
Defy social mores.
Make friends who buy whores.
Have readers exhaling, “Oh, my-o!”
V. Attend Conferences. Read at Conferences. Cultivate Poet Reading Voice [males: intone. Females: uptalk]. N.B: the Best Networking Occurs in an Alcoholic Haze.
So you’re teaching in Kalamazoo.
Your rejections are out the wazoo.
Trumpet your work,
but don’t be a jerk.
Embody the humble kazoo.
VI. Abandon Literary Journal Started in Your Twenties for One Better Known. Cultivate Connections by Publishing Them. Accept 1-3% of Unsolicited Submissions as Token Toward Journal’s Mission Statement.
You’re helming a quarterly journal.
Submissions come on the diurnal.
A Keats is so rare,
talent’s not fair,
and the thanks of your peers are eternal.
VII. Reevaluate Poetic Subjects. Have You Written Enough About Whores?
No more on the topic of writing—
not even on undergrad writing.
Compose on your wife
and taking her life.
Just don’t fucking write about writing.
VIII. A Note on Dickinson’s Aversion to Publication as it Pertains to Auctioning the Mind.
The saint of American letters
was never among the go-getters.
Know your own merit.
Get out of the garret.
Consider the journals your debtors.
IX. Massage Your Social Media Presence.
A final poetic agendum:
don’t be a Facebook pudendum.
Be bold with your links!
Use words like “methinks.”
Some asshole won’t like it: unfriend him.
SUGGESTED READSList: Things I Have Needed to Google While Writing Poems to Turn In to My MFA Workshop
by Daniela Olszewska (1/6/2011)
Going Where the Southern Cross the Dog: A Column About the Blues: MFA Blues
by Jason Edward Harrington (7/22/2013)
So You Want to Get Into an MFA Program: A Decision Tree
by Rebekah Frumkin (9/16/2014)
RECENTLYThis Summer, We’re Renaming Our Tampons “America”!
by Kendra Eash (5/31/2016)
List: An Updated List of the Hardest Parts By Mr. Tom Petty, Revising an Earlier Assertion That the Waiting Was the Hardest Part
by John Moe (5/31/2016)
Teddy Wayne’s Unpopular Proverbs: Fences
by Teddy Wayne (5/31/2016)
POPULARList: Things the World’s Most and Least Privileged People Say
by John-Clark Levin (5/19/2016)
I Would Rather Do Anything Else Than Grade Your Final Papers
by Robin Lee Mozer (5/2/2016)
List: Obituaries for Teenage Girls If They Actually Died When They Say They’re Dying
by Karen Chee (5/26/2016)