That kind of thinking [that writers must alleviate their guilt for leading a creative life] is based on the idea that the creative life is somehow self-indulgent. Artists and writers have to understand and live the truth that what we are doing is nourishing the world. William Carlos Williams said, “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” You can’t eat a book, right, but books have saved my life more often than sandwiches. And they’ve saved your life… But we don’t say, oh, Maya Angelou should have silenced herself because other people have other destinies. It’s interesting, because artists are always encouraged to feel guilty about their work. Why? Why don’t we ask predatory bankers how they alleviate their guilt?
Last week’s reading.
You went and you left me
and I was so unsatisfied.
I hadn’t had anywhere near
the amount of you
I instantly missed the taste of you.
your rage and forgiveness,
I went around
putting strange things in my mouth to try and
I tried food first, stupidly,
but food comes and goes too quickly,
and the hunger always outlives it.
I chewed a crayon,
tried a few different colours,
sucked on a twig, and that was close for a while
to the times when you used to ignore me.
I lapped up the ocean and held out my tongue
for rain. Ate freshly cut grass
and some egg shells. A red brick wall after a storm
tasted exactly like you when you’d been
and you were thinking too hard about us
(about leaving me, I suppose).
I started smoking and that comes kind of close
to the silly arguments,
but only when I mix it with warm bourbon whisky,
I haven’t tried poison yet,
I’m scared it would work and you’d