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As My Writing Changes, I Think with Sorrow of Those Who Couldn't Change.

 I am thinking with sorrow of those who couldn't change,
of those who committed suicide, Plath, Sexton, Berryman,
of Hemingway with the gun in his mouth;
of Ralph Ellison who would not support young black writers--
they weren't good enough, he said,
not as good as he was--
but who never finished his second book;
of Anatole Broyard, who couldn't write the autobiographical novel
that he had been paid to write
because he couldn't write the first truth--
that all those years he had been drama critic
for the NY Times, he had been passing for white.
And there are those who face the truth the first time,
then, when that truth changes, they can't do it again,
as if the old truth made
a self so vain they can't let it go.
And I think of the great writers who DO change:
Jerry Stern, in his 90's, writing two new books a year--
his publishers can't keep up!--
poetry; and prose that I love as much as the old awarded
poetry books, because it shows so clearly
the bare fluctuations of a brilliant mind.

TO1 DERRICOTTE'S most recent book is The Undertaker's Daughter. She received the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement and the 2012 PEN/ Voelcker Award for Poetry, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. With Cornelius Eady, she co-founded Cave Canem in 1996. She has served on the Academy of American Poets' Board of Chancellors.

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Title Annotation:six poems
Author:Derricotte, Toi
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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