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Erica Jong

(26 March 1942 / New York City)

What You Need to Be A Writer


After the college
reading,
the eager
students gather.

They ask me
what you need
to be a writer

& I, feeling flippant,
jaunty
(because
I am wearing
an 18th century
dress
& think
myself in love
again),
answer:

'Mazel,
dete rmination,
talent, & true
grit.'

I even
believe it-

looking
as I do
like an
advertisement
for easy
success-

designer dress,
sly smile
on my lips
& silver boots
from
Oz.

Suppose
they saw me
my eyes
swollen
like sponges,
my hand
shaking
with betrayal,

my fear
rampant
in the dark?

Suppose they saw
the fear
of never
writing,
the fear
of being
alone,
the money fear,
the fear fear,
the fear
of succumbing
to fear?

& then there's all
I did
not say:

to be
a writer
what you need
is

something
to say:

something
that burns
like a hot coal
in your gut

something
that pounds
like a pump
in your groin

& the courage
to love
like a wound

that never
heals.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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