Friday, March 7, 2014

Aunt Louise Asks: What's Wrong With These People? (Know-It-All)

Dear Madame L,

Aunt Louise here, with my own story of someone who made me wonder what her problem was.

In my poetry workshop, where at the beginning of each class we can read a favorite poem by anyone or a poem we ourselves have written,  I read one of my own poems about how I wished there were more fiery women poets. I thought it was funny, and the workshop leader and most of the other students seemed to like my poem.

But one woman came over to me during the break with a list she'd made, in angry, spiky handwriting, of a bunch of women poets. She stuck it in my face and said, "Here. Here's some women poets for you."

I glanced at it. She had written down about 15 names, all of them famous women poets, and none of them writers of any "fiery" poems that I'm aware of --- like Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Marge Piercy, and people like that. I glanced at it and said, "Ummm. I've read some poems by all these women."

She grabbed the paper back from me and said, "What about Maya Angelou? What about Patti Smith? What about...?" And so on.

I said, "Yes?" Because obviously she hadn't listened to my poem and was just trying to show how smart and well read she was. She stomped back to her seat with a look of self-righteous victory.

I shrugged and glanced at another class member who was trying to catch my eye to give me a big grin of understanding and solidarity, which was a relief.

So, Madame L, I guess I'm not asking for advice on this, just thought it was a funny story to add to your collection of "What's Wrong With These People?" stories.

Best,

Aunt Louise

P.S. Here's that poem, still in draft form:

Maybe

Maybe I have nothing against the male poets, per se.
Maybe it's per the professors who crammed them down my throat
as extensions of their own raging egos
that soured me on them.

I wonder: if you threw a line to me
that I didn't know came from the male ego and
its extensions in the halls of academia,
how would it strike me?

Maybe like a baseball bat?
Maybe not a strike at all, but a ball, high and outside.
Maybe I'd be lost without the context.

But here's what I want, now:
a female poet
who knocks me out with fast balls,
firebombs and kung-fu,
who yells at me so loud I have to
stop and listen. 
It didn't sound to you like I'd never heard of Emily Dickinson and Marge Piercy, did it?

1 comment:

Laura said...

Non-listeners are crazy. And I love your poem.