32

LUCY K SHAW



I agreed to do a reading on the last Sunday before leaving America

after having been here for 2 months

but after having agreed to doing the reading

I found out that it is a reading for poets


which as you can imagine left me in an awkward position

as I haven’t written a poem in years

and the idea of doing so fills me with dread

and embarrassment


Sorry it’s just


As my friend Kristen once put it,


‘I think it’s okay for other people to write poems...

but if I try to imagine myself doing that...

it just seems....... ridiculous.’


I took to my instagram story to ask

people what they thought I should do


In a poll I asked:


Should I

BECOME A POET IN 4 DAYS

or

PRETEND IT’S PROSE POETRY???


The vote was neck and neck

and I decided that I’d need to look

within myself

instead of to others


So I went for a walk in Greenwich Village

on Halloween

while my husband was at a 95 minute yoga class

and I started thinking about some poems I had read or heard lately


I went to a really good reading the other day

The launch party for The Bushwick Review,

edited by my friend Kristen who I previously mentioned,

but I don’t remember the last time

I read a poetry book

that I enjoyed


Do I?


Okay


I liked The Following Scan Will Last Five Minutes

by Lieke Marsman

translated from the Dutch

by Sophie Collins

It is a very personal story about cancer and politics

though I guess maybe that’s why I liked it so much


because there is a story


Usually I write stories

in case you’re unfamiliar

with my work


I write stories about myself and then I say


this

is

fiction


But anyway

since I’ve been in New York

I have been going to a few readings

and I’ve heard more new poetry than I usually do


Honestly, it doesn’t seem that difficult

I think about it sometimes, like

Oh if you want to write a poem you have to have some kind of big idea

but then I noticed at some of the readings

it’s basically just

someone standing there

saying things


which I like


Okay


Well I have something to say

about a poem I reread recently

it’s called Writ On The Eve Of My 32nd Birthday

by Gregory Corso

and it’s just about... how he feels on turning 32


I first read it in the summer of 2008

when I was 21

and I thought that 32 must be sooo old

obviously,

and it seemed like Gregory Corso wanted me to feel that way too


He was like, ‘I am 32 years old

and finally I look my age, if not more.’


Well the reason I bring this up

is because I recently turned 32

and I was pleased as punch with myself

because on the eve of my 32nd birthday

I remembered about this poem

and I read it on that day

so I was like hell yeah


But it seemed funny to me

because I feel so young

and I think I look great

and I don’t care about many of the things Gregory Corso was concerned about


I was kind of thinking, damn, this is so dramatic, I’m embarrassed for him

Good job he’s dead


but then

there was this one line

that made me feel somehow observed

he wrote:


'I love poetry because it makes me love

and presents me life.'


Which is something I have been thinking about

because as you know

I have this idea of myself

as a person

who finds poetry so embarrassing

and yet


It has come to my attention that

I have accidentally

built my entire life around it


For example


I was recently on Fire Island

for a funeral

and I was thinking about how that’s where Frank O’Hara died

and I was thinking about how it was his fault that I got sucked into this lifestyle in the first place

I was thinking about how if I didn’t read his poetry when I was 20

then I wouldn’t have started a literary magazine when I was 24

and then I wouldn’t have met any of my best friends

and then I wouldn’t have met my husband

and then I wouldn’t have met my husband’s grandmother

and then I wouldn’t be on Fire Island at her funeral

running on the beach where Frank O’Hara died

with my brother in law


We got lost in some bushes and it was very funny


So from that perspective

it seems that perhaps I love poetry

because it makes me love

and presents me life


What do you think?


I agreed to do a reading on the last Sunday before leaving America

after having been here for 2 months

I felt like it would be embarrassing to write and read a poem but I did it anyway


It's okay when other people do it

but when I try...


It's just ridiculous