Poetry

The Tortured Writer

Let me tell you that you do not have to be a tortured soul in order to make a good writer.

Your mother doesn’t have to die

Your uncle doesn’t have to beat you

Your cat doesn’t have to be eaten by a cougar

Your brother doesn’t have to be a jerk

Your sister doesn’t have to have suffered horribly, thereby making you grieve for her

You do not have to be an alcoholic

You do not have to do drugs

You do not have to be poor, hungry, thirsty, dirty, tired, or have cancer

You don’t have to be bald, smoke a pipe, or have a monocle

You don’t have to be a social pariah, wear the Scarlet letter, or be suicidal.

All you have to be is a writer

That is torture enough.

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4 thoughts on “The Tortured Writer

  1. Thad says:

    I like this. Very, very nice — especially the ending. The poem is serious, but does not take itself seriously. It is a list, which could have made it monotonous, but it uses the list to build rhythm, and then drops the final couplet into the reader’s mind off-beat for added impact. Prima mia, this is damn good.

    One minor editorial suggestion: I suspect that the line, “You do not have to an alcoholic,” is missing a verb. Depending on exactly when you want the emphasis to shift to the first person, the verb in question could be either, “be,” or, “marry”…

    • Thad says:

      Okay, now I can’t stop mucking with it. Given the length of the previous thought about the reader’s sister, and the (lovely) way you broke the sentence into two lines, it seems like that’s where your shift in emphasis should be, so I would recommend going with, “be an alcoholic,” instead of “marry an alcoholic.”

      All analysis aside, I really like the segue of feelings you evoke over the course of the poem. It holds up well to multiple readings, which is always a good thing. As noted previously: it’s nice — which, incidentally, originally meant, “precise and accurate,” which this poem is as well.

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