What My Workshop Mentor Said.
"Do you think this is a finished poem?
What are you, down from the Bronx?
That doesn't mean you get away with this!
Hip hop was created in the Bronx.
The New York Yankees, the Bronx Zoo are in the Bronx.
If you were from Manhattan you wouldn't submit this
If you were from Brooklyn you wouldn't submit this poem.
Christ, if you were from Queens, the borough of brotherly love,
you wouldn't submit this ... I hate to say this,
I don't want to hurt you, but some poets
need to be
If you were from Staten Island and earless like a real poet,
you'd have to take the ferry over,
and then you'd take the ferry back,
plenty of time.
Revise, count the beats, no cheap rhymes,
none of this tie up the mess with a ribbon at the end, amen.
"There's the Statue of Liberty if you need inspiration.
Think of your ancestors on Ellis Island.
OK then, think of my goddamn ancestors.
If Staten Island is only half a borough (I'm only sayin'),
it's a complete goddamn island. Like Trinidad. Like Ireland.
"Back on the ferry, don't give me no half a poem.
You got four stanzas, give me one finished, that's Staten Island.
Stanza two, revise it, there now that's Queens.
Third, all imagistic and onomatopoeic now that's Brooklyn.
Fourth, polished to a shine, that's the whole Village, Harlem,
the lower east side.
"Now check each word.
Right word? Right order?
You take Manhattan,
The Bronx AND Staten Island.
Eighth street in July.
That's the isle of joy".