I’ve been super hot for a guy in my poetry workshop (MFA, if you want to know). My question is: is the workshop an appropriate forum in which to submit the many love poems I’ve been writing for him? Will he know it’s him? Should I code it? Do you think all writing is autobiographical? I should say our professor is a sexist piece of shit who only teaches male texts. If I so as much mention the female libido, I’ll be squashed before my peers. But I want to workshop these poems. And I want this male-poet to read me. Do I throw caution to the wind? Or do I just slip a folded-up Neruda poem across the seminar table with a wink?
Hot for Poet
Dear Hot for Poet,
Game playing puts me on edge, I’d just as soon come out and tell someone I want to fuck them than pass them poems (mine or anyone else’s) and hope that they somehow get that I’m trying to say I want to fuck them. But I’m no kind of romantic. If this sort of cat-and-mouse works for you, knock yourself out, but don’t bring it to workshop unless you’re convinced it’s art. That’s a waste of everyone’s time, especially your own. MFA’s are a rare opportunity to focus on writing, don’t make a joke of yourself by instead focusing on silly, veiled come-ons. That said, if what you are writing kicks artistic ass and might just land you that hot guy, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go for it if that’s your desire.
Do I think all writing is autobiographical? I shouldn’t dignify that with an answer when there is science fiction in the world, but I see what you’re saying – people tend to assume that poetry, in particular, is autobiographical because it is often emotional and intense, and often in the first person besides. And you know what? You’re never going to convince people otherwise, so if you don’t want readers thinking things about you that either are or are not facts of your life, don’t show your poems to anyone.
But you want the opposite, right? You want these love poems to be read as autobiographical because you plan to use these poems to tell this hot guy that you’d like to bring him home rather than just, um, telling him you’d like to bring him home. Ah, it’s so nice when other people’s stupid assumptions can work in your favor.
Do I think you should code your poems about the hot guy? Well, no, because you want to use them to send a message that you can’t seem to send any other way. And, also no, because, well, game playing puts me on edge (I may have mentioned this earlier?).
Just make sure the poems are good, because nothing is a turnoff to a writer like bad writing.
I was in a workshop once where a woman brought in a series of pieces about me, the most memorable being one about my vagina (which she had never experienced) and how it was like a flower from an ancient land. That’s right. A flower! From an ancient land! Do I need to say more about this? She still hasn’t lived that down in my opinion of her and her talent, although she’s gone on to real success as a writer of much better things.
Your hot poet needs to be turned on by your words as much as anything else. You know that! So don’t suck. And don’t overwhelm him with love or bad metaphors for genitalia.
If it’s good, you stand a chance that your hot poet will dig you right back. People love to be flattered, and people love to be a muse, and people love to be flattered and be a muse around a table of their peers. You just need to decide if you want everyone to know that you want this guy, or if you want to keep it between the two of you. If it’s the latter, just email him the damn poem. Or just invite him over, for fuck’s sake.
Now about this shithead teacher of yours. For a slimy little fucker like that, you should only bring in poems about the female libido. A man like that is afraid of the female libido, he doesn’t know what to do with it, if he even realizes it exists. He’s even more afraid of your brain. So your job is to scare the crap out of him with your libido and your poems and your hot, feminine brain. He’s not going to embarrass you in front of your peers because your peers most likely know he’s a pile of shit, and because he’s afraid of you and your hot brain. He’ll only embarrass himself.
So bring those poems to class, and mention feminist texts in class, and get your classmates to do the same (you are not the only one feeling this way, I promise, and there is, as ever, strength in numbers). The guy is a sexist jerk at least in part because he’s been allowed to be one. Don’t let him.
All of this is easier said than done, of course. It can be very tough to be an aggressive female writer in a world full of sexist, male teachers of writing. And it also can be very tough to sit across the table from the guy you’re hot for and tell him, outright or poetically, that you’re hot for him. But what are your other options here? Stand back and let the world happen to you however the hell it wants?
Let me know how it goes.
Fury lives on the taint between life and writing. Send her your questions at email@example.com.