179th Poem’s a Charm

Lockwood still planned to go to college, but in the meantime she undertook her own literary education, reading widely and voraciously — modernists like Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and T.S. Eliot; the aphorist Jules Renard and the essayist Michel de Montaigne; and piles of comic books, particularly the escapades of Scrooge McDuck. “I wasn’t concerned about taste,” she says. “I wanted to know things.” They lived frugally; she read and wrote, he went to work and took on the role of her manager, salvaging many of her poems from the wastebasket, submitting them to journals when she was disinclined to and maintaining a spreadsheet to track their efforts. “We blitzed everybody,” he said. “We started blasting people with her stuff.” The blitz went on for years. Eventually a poem was accepted by Poetry (Submission No. 179) and then The New Yorker (Submission No. 240), and that changed everything.

— Patricia Lockwood, author of the poem “Rape Joke” and a forthcoming collection of poems entitled Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, is profiled in the New York Times Magazine this week. [NYTM]