I am a writer.
That’s what I tell people at dinner parties, while shaking hands with strangers on the street, across noisy tables of new friends. I like to let people think what they want about that.
There is a reason I don’t say, “I am a blogger.”
To dissect my self-loathing for a second, I hold a special contempt for the word “blog” (short for weblog). It is the product of lazy internet-speak that pollutes our culture, strangles our shapchatting children, and will topple our civilization. Phew.
Some people ask, “What kind of writer are you?” mostly to understand how it makes me any money.
Before my peers were considering college, I was circulating the writing workshops studying under Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. I confidently commanded my art, as perhaps only a young artist can. I believed my art made me immortal. There was some magic in the portrait of myself at that age: an unscorned artist.
I started college and immediately advanced to senior seminars, studying poetry under the head of the department. I applied for honors thesis, awaiting my acceptance. I never considered rejection.
I was told I was immensely talented, that I “was not without support.” However, I hadn’t fulfilled the introductory requirements at the University, nor had I displayed maturity and variety through diversifying my coursework throughout the department. Heartbreakingly and haughtily, I hadn’t needed to take 101 and I had already specialized in poetry, given my experience before Brandeis.
Competition, canon, and criticism turned my Truth to torment.
I had long since rejected the regeneration of the tender part of me that made me an Artist. Maybe blogging isn’t directly the vein that brings me back, but it gets me writing. As an adult I realize that it’s not just me alone with my lightning. I carry the weight of the lessons from those who put intellectual energy into me and my art.
I recently learned of the death of one of my favorite poetry professors, Franz Wright. He helped me grow–delicate and direct all at once. We would share space and cigarettes during the break in workshop. My best memory of him was when he taught me how to be a kinder critic. He died of lung cancer in May.
We sit there
and me, Li Po
said, until only the mountain
-from “Beginning Again” by Franz Wright
More from Franz Wright below: