Letter from My 48th Year (Jan 30)
Here’s what I know about myself: I’m hungry. I also know that I like to watch TV while I eat no matter how many times over the years Weight Watchers told me it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I also know that if I eat and watch TV I won’t actually write a blog post or take care of some poetry things I need to work on. So I’m hungry blogging. It’s not yet hangry blogging so you’re safe. For now.
About a billion years ago, I did a seven-month fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary by putting together an anthology of work (or excerpts of work) from people that had fellowships there. You know, Pulitzer Prize winners. And Guggenheim geniuses. And National Book Award winners. And me.
I’m a wee bit intimidated. Which is how I was the entire time of my fellowship because I didn’t have an MFA. It never once occurred to me to remember that not only had I been accepted for a prestigious fellowship without said MFA, but I’d gotten in on my first try. Instead even as I lived what I now fondly remember as “my real life” (lots of library books, lots of wandering up and down Commercial Street and trying to convince people to drink in the busted up Old Colony bar instead of the nicer newer one down the street, lots of passionate looking and thinking about the way a poem is also a piece of sculpture), I could never quite shake the feeling that I was doing it wrong.
I know, now, of course that not everyone’s path is the same, even if it seems like almost everyone you know is taking that other path. I also know that there’s more people in my particular tribe—what I’ll call the non-traditional poet life tribe—than I think, than I know and I look forward to crossing paths with them. And yeah, I still feel a little bit intimidated about choosing the right poem to send. But I’m also like, Hey, I’m in the same anthology with Pulitzer Prize winners and Guggenheim geniuses and National Book Award winners—well done me!