“Sestina: Writing” by Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio


I spent an entire day at my desk writing
vapid effluvia like I’m so sick of writing
pages of drivel, not feeling like a writer
at all even though “A writer writes
and doesn’t just talk about writing”
was drilled into me by a writing

instructor years ago. “Writing
begets writing”
was another lesson I learned from this writer
though she published only one book, written
when she was twenty-five, and never wrote
another. She taught writing

until she shot herself at forty. Writers
sometimes kill themselves—after all, writing
is difficult and so is mortal life and even good writers
are sometimes bad at living; writing
can be a place to hide, but you can’t write
all the time and when you hate what you do manage to write

it makes you feel dead already. To write
well is another story entirely. Sometimes writing
takes you so far out to sea that you, the writer,
disappear like shredded fog. There is no writer.
The ocean is the writer.
When it lets you go, weak as a dangling modifier, the writing

washes in like space debris. You say “I wrote”
but you didn’t, really. You only transcribed the writing
the ocean gave you. According to some writers
God is the Ur-writer
since He created the world and humans but as a writer
He got mixed results at best. The best writing

sometimes might be no writing.
Does the world really need more writing
and more people trying to be writers
when there is so much wrong that writing
can’t fix? It seems the most that writers
can do is call out to the world, but who listens to writers?

Possibly, no one. But keep writing; be a writer.
Without hope or reason: writing. Beyond good and evil: writing.
And if you stop writing, try not to shoot yourself. Get a life.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020


Kim Addonizio: “I was reading something by Plath, who’s been a common gateway drug for young women writers, and I was just blown away. It gave me a certain feeling, like the feeling you get when you listen to a piece of music you love, that moves you in some way, that opens up your spirit. The way poetry made me feel when I was reading it made me want to write it and create my own version. Whatever energy was held in that language, I wanted to find my own way of accessing it. So that was the beginning, and it really was like lightning.” (web)

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