Poetry of Erica Jong

This week, I went to Kemp, Oklahoma to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. This is the area of the Red River Valley where I set my novel, Red River Fever, a quaint area filled with rednecks, farms, ranches, brain-fevered folks, and a multitude of stories waiting to be written. When I travel, I always take something to read and the means to write–my writing notebooks, my iBook, and sometimes my manual typewriter. This trip, I mostly read.

I finished Erica Jong’s book of poetry entitled, Becoming Light. I love reading poetry generally, but I especially enjoy poets who teach me as they move me in their poems. I love the richness of Jong’s allusions, and though some points, especially the autobiographical ones, are rather cryptic, I find the margins of the book are full of my minute notes concerning definitions or connotations of words, historical notes, notes to myself to look up a topic or image, or questions that came to my mind when I read the poems.

Jong’s poems are intense, personal, exploratory, and sometimes jarring. Many of her phrases are absolutely brilliant and memorable. I’ve decided to memorize a couple of her poems that seemed to especially speak to me. One is “There is Only One Story.”

There Is Only One Story

There is only one story:
he loved her,
then stopped loving her,
while she did not
stop loving him.
There is only one story:
she loved him,
then stopped loving him,
while he did not
stop loving her.
The truth is simple:
you do not die
from love.
You only wish
you did.

You can read more about Jong, her ficiton, nonfiction, and her poetry here: http://www.ericajong.com/