This is one of my favorite prose poems of all time, a transcendentally self-mocking poetic creed that’s a delight from start to finish.
Jonathan did it. He teaches at a university in Washington now.
Or Oregon. I forget. But he said he gets fifty grand a year.
To teach creative writing. That’s like winning the lottery.
I make thirty grand and my lungs are turning into a collection
of twisted lies. I cough more than I think. I asked Jonathan
how he did it and he said he didn’t know. It was like God
napalmed him with luck. He got some award for a poem
about a goddamn lake and suddenly they pay him a thousand
dollars to read for fifty minutes in an auditorium filled
with students who don’t want to be there. I tell him to seriously
tell me how to do it and he said you have to make sure
there’s a lot of mist in the poem, that they can see the mist,
feel the mist, and then just go from there. He says that poets
love mist. They want so much mist in a poem that you can’t
see anything else other than mist and then from that mist
you have something really beautiful peek through and then
something really ugly peek through. But it can’t be too ugly,
he says, or you’re fucked. And he says don’t swear. He says
you want mist and beauty and a touch of ugly
Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors, and indisputably one of the best young adult novelists out there. So have two bits of deliciousness today.
First, Buzzfeed did a great interview of her, from Ashley Ford who goes by smashfizzle on Tumblr –
“The first time Rowell wrote about the struggles of her childhood was in her column for the Omaha World Herald. Her voice lowers a bit, serious but without shame. “I was living in rural areas often without power or a phone or a car. Our water came from a well and a pump. My dad was not around and when he was around, he was not good. There was a lot of alcohol abuse and drug abuse. I feel like I need to say that I’m probably sane and alive because I had a really great mom. Eventually, when we moved to the city and we were on welfare, it was a step up. Being poor in the city was easier than being poor in the country.”
Despite their living conditions, Rowell remembers a home where her father read her The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Books were her safe haven. “My mother was very strict, there was very little on television that we were allowed to watch, there were very few movies that we were allowed to watch. But she’d let me read anything.”
And a favorite Youtube book reviewer Polesandbananas covered Landline with her usual pizzazz –
Great, great essay by Lev Grossman over on Buzzfeed, on the time he left everything and went on a roadtrip to become a great writer.
“You can’t be that lonely now, not anymore, but back then loneliness was a totally different animal: It came at you hot and strong, raw and uncut….
What I hadn’t figured out yet was that it’s OK not to be a genius, whatever that is, if there even is such a thing. Since then I’ve learned that the creative life may or may not be the apex of human civilization, but either way it’s not what I thought it was. It doesn’t make you special and sparkly. You don’t have to walk alone. You can work in an office — I’ve worked in offices for the past 15 years and written five novels while doing it. The creative life is forgiving: You can betray it all you want, again and again, and no matter how many times you do, it will always take you back.”