The Jolly Librarian Celebrates Poetry Month: Marge Piercy

Okay, let me admit this: I am a huge fan of Marge Piercy. If she ever did a reading in my town, I would be as excited as one of Lady Gaga’s little monsters. However, I have a feeling that Marge Piercy would not be comfortable with such adulation, and unlike the typical rock star, she would probably sit me down, give me a cup of tea, and tell me to go out and create a good life for myself.

So I didn’t squeal when I saw that a book of her selected and new poems, The Hunger Moon, had been published. I very sedately ordered it. And when it arrived, I simply started reading it and marking all those poems that “spoke” to me. Of course, by now, almost every poem is marked.

There is a Piercy poem to mark every occasion in my life. When asked to be the guest speaker at our college’s honor society induction, I read “To Be of Use.”   When comforting a woman, who like me, is the first person in her family to go to college, I recommend “Where Dreams Come From.”  When feeling fat and lumpy, I smile as I read “Taking a Hot Bath.” I always think of “It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Purse” when I switch out bags for the season.  And although I’m not a gardener, I can’t help but love “Attack of the Squash People.

All right, you get the picture. I love Marge Piercy. But I’m not the only one. At the reception after the honor society program, people flocked to me to ask again who was the poet and where they could find the poem. Each April, when I send out a poem every day for poetry month, I’ve learned that the biggest reaction will be to Piercy’s poems. She can amuse, she can comfort, she can irritate. She is a poet that is hard to keep to yourself. You’ll find yourself following people around wanting to read your new favorite Piercy poem to them.

“To Be of Use” ends” with

The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

And maybe that’s why Piercy means so much to me. Her work is so real, it’s as if she knows my life.

Start with The Hunger Moon, and I bet you will soon be searching for more.

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