In my English class we’ve been reading poems – a lot of them. We’re now doing projects on a poet, and I chose to do Marge Piercy, a poet that we read about in our textbook.
One of her poems that I came across really spoke to me. It’s called “For the young who want to”. I really encourage you to go take a look at it. Here’s a brief summary:
Piercy writes about artists of any kind (painters, writers, directors, poets, etc.) doing what they love, and being criticized for it up until the point that they’ve achieved something great, such as publishing a novel or producing a fabulous play. She points out that the reason artists take seminars and classes, even when they don’t need them, is because they lack the “license to hang on the wall” (line 26), like most occupations acquire. She finishes by saying that a real artist does what the enjoy; being an artist is not defined by how much you publish or invent or the amount of awards you’ve won.
[You probably could have read the poem in the amount of time that you read that long summary.]
“An artist cannot fail; It is a success to be one.”
~ Charles Horton Cooley
The point that she makes is this: do what you love, forget what others think you should be doing, and what they think makes you “accomplished.” I think this is important for college students to think about. Opinions are coming our way every day, and while some are extremely valuable and life-changing, some can be harmful.
For me, I love to write. To be a writer, I don’t have to publish novels or start a magazine… I just have to write. To be an artist, you don’t have to have your own gallery… You just have to make art. Piercy’s poem spoke loudly to me about this, and I couldn’t not write about it. Since it applies to many college and high school students, I thought I would share her wisdom 🙂
“The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut