If your husband is a literate person, you maybe able to get the understanding and support you need to become a famous poet. My husband is not literate. This might give me the excuse later in life to put the blame on him for not becoming well-known or well paid as a writer.
When I was young I used to rush out to the veranda where the man of the house was enjoying a quiet beer, “Listen to this darling!” I would read my latest masterpiece. There were sentimental tears in my eyes, changing often to angry ones when his reaction was either, “Nice,” or “Hm, can I have another beer.”
I can understand that my decadent, romantic earlier efforts in poetry left him cold. However, even after I had learned to ‘write’ instead of ‘gush’, he would ignore my efforts and small successes. Oh he is proud of me alright, “She writes, you know,” he will inform acquaintances, but whenever I am asked to read something, his voice will turn querulous, “You are not going to bring that stuff out again!”
Sometimes he feels magnanimous and offers me a topic to write about. Ouch, then I am in a pickle. The Lord and Master has come up with an idea. He has entered my world and I must come up with the goods. Recently he has taken to offering the odd correction or criticism. I use the word criticism purposely. He does not critique! It takes the form of a laconic one-liner, ” I do absolutely and totally object to the word ‘issue’ in verse three.” He is very fond of the word ‘totally’. The vital word in this poem is ‘issue’ and I would rather amputate a finger than cut out the word’ issue’. I haven’t solved that problem yet.
Daughter No. 1 and son-in-law are highly literate and intellectual. Their combined academic degrees and intellectual forces have me running for cover. I tried once to elicit their help as editors but the result was a page full of accurately spelled, superb words, concise in their meaning – I am still not quite sure what happened to my poem. I now hand them only a finished product and as the topic is often their own small son, they just love every word and get misty eyes. Ah well, I guess I am back to writing ‘mush’.
Daughter No. 2 hates poetry. It is the result of an expensive private school where poetry was dissected like corpses and a once beautiful and whole piece of writing would be raped until nothing was left but a mangled mess of unconnected. words. She dutifully collects paper clippings of my published work and I hope that one day I can reconcile her to the beauty of poetry.
My father was a poet himself and loved poetry. I sometimes wonder how he would have reacted to my writing in a strange language. My mother does not speak English and does not realise that she features sometimes in my poetry. My brother also does not speak English. Maybe I should persuade him to migrate – his children might like poetry.
I am an optimist, I live on hope and in hope. I am also a wily and crafty woman. I am laying my plans well. When those unsuspecting grandchildren come along in future years, I shall be laying in wait, seducing them with Lawson and Dawe, Plath and Wright, McAuley and Dobson.
So wish me luck and lots of grand and great-grandchildren, hopefully they will love poetry and read my books.
Born in Germany but true-blue Darwinite by 1960, Mocco is now a recognised poet and author who lives in Brisbane. She has nine poetry books published as well as winning prizes for poems published in newspapers and anthologies. Her memoir Bloody, Bastard, Beautiful was published in July 2017.