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Philip Schultz

Philip Schultz

Philip Schultz's most recent book is My Dyslexia, a memoir published by Norton in 2011. His most recent poetry collection is The God of Loneliness: Selected and New Poems. His collection Failure won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He founded and directs The Writers Studio, a private school for fiction and pouty, with branches in Manhattan, Tucson, San Francisco, Amsterdam and online.

Why I Am Not A Novelist: After Frank O'Hara

Maybe I'm not a novelist because
my legs are too short, or I don't own enough
ambition to write about longer subjects.
I would like to, but I can't. My subjects tend
to grow impatient with me. They want me
to make them more provocative, more interesting.
None of them want a happy ending, many have
lost their confidence that they'll ever be redeemed.
Nothing is as hopeless as a hopeless subject,
especially one with which we once were intimate.
Indeed. Recently I went out walking and one
of my least essential stories walked right past me
without nodding. I wasn't insulted, or worried
particularly, I'm used to being ignored by
the estranged parts of my life, as I often do
my best to ignore them. This is one of the reasons
my stories are so short. Novels are mostly little stories
joined together by one or two large interruptions.
Novels can't get enough of themselves, never stop talking.
Poems prefer conversations about what almost
but didn't quite actually happen. Sometimes I
walk up 5th Avenue feeling all my unwritten stories
jingling around inside me. That's when I want to travel
and learn new languages. When I want to be someone else.
Basically, my poems are tired of being so sad, and so am I.

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