Limericks to a Young Poet.
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)
Another Example of the Illuminating Correspondence Between John Hodgman, Professional Literary Agent, and His Cousin, One ‘Josh,’ Who Aims to Be a Man of Letters
by John Hodgman (1/31/2000)
RECENTLYA Millennial Applies for a Ghostwriting Position at a Wealthy White Lady’s Lifestyle Blog
by Max Bisantz (9/12/2014)
Best Joke Ever: Louis C.K. Exposes My Stupid Brain
by Mark Peters (9/12/2014)
Monologue: Botticelli’s Venus Wants You to Go Away
by Kate Hahn (9/12/2014)
POPULARHello Stranger On the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How to Take Care of My Baby?
by Wendy Molyneux (8/16/2012)
Classic Movies Changed to Not Be Sexist
by Blythe Roberson (8/14/2014)
A Post Gender Normative Man Tries to Pick Up a Woman at a Bar
by Jesse Eisenberg (12/28/2011)