Monday, March 19, 2007

Fairy Tales For Writers by Lawrence Schimel

Fairy Tales for Writers. Lawrence Schimel (A Midsummer Night’s Press. 16 W. 36th St. 2nd Floor. NY, NY 10018 $6.50

“Fairy Tales for Writers” by Lawrence Schimel is a new release by the small press “A Midsummer Night’s Press” of New York City. I love Schimel’s conceit of using fairy tales as templates for his poems of the writing life. In this little book you have all the players and places you most likely encountered in your travels in the literary milieu. In “Little Mermaid” a young, idealistic woman falls under the spell of a charismatic but Janus-faced MFA professor:

“She slaved to scrape together on
enough money to join the MFA
where he taught working double shifts
as a waitress that sent sharp pains
shooting up her legs from being on her feet
all day and night. She had no time to write
But she bore it all silently, buoyed by the memory
of their time together at the conference,
and the promise the future held.

At the cocktail party, the night before
the first day of classes, where the students were
to meet and mingle with the faculty and each other,
he introduced her to his wife,
who had also once aspired to write, but now
was content to remain in his shadow,
to be seen on his arm when he won awards and
to look the other way when he followed
his wandering eye.”

And in the poem “Sleeping Beauty” the poet examines the damage unconstructive and mean-spirited criticism can do to a writer in the formative stages; literally freezing him or her in their track, like, well, “Sleeping Beauty”:

“Be it from parent or teacher, sibling or spouse,
just one tiny prick of criticism is all it takes sometimes
to put a burgeoning writer to sleep
for a hundred years,
for a lifetime
for so long that no princes are left
to hack through the brambles,
or if one is, he can’t imagine that he should bother.”

This is a charming mini-chap from “A Mid Summer Night’s Press.”

Doug Holder/Ibbetson Update/ March 2007/ Somerville, Mass.

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