Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Morton Marcus
November 2, 2009, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I went on a little drive yesterday because I just had to get out of the town where I live.  And I ended up back in a town where I used to live.  And just as I was pulling up into the parking lot of the disgusting cheap motel where I stayed last night a show came on the radio honoring the memory of the only poetry teacher I ever took a class from, Morton Marcus.  He died last week on Wednesday.

I took the class from Marcus becaus his poetry went straight to my heart.  I generally don’t like vagueness so I generally don’t like poetry. I went to the class sort of as a joke mostly because I wanted to meet a poet who I could understand.  The class was incredible.  Marcus’ energy was open and positive.  He shared stories about getting drunk with Raymond Carver and he read his poetry and one woman who had been writing poetry for years said that she had had a major breakthrough in her writing.  I sort of remember embarassing myself with my own writing attempt.

I remember that one of Marcus’ poems was a brutal description of an abusive father.  I had no idea a poet would ever be able to survive into adulthood after experiencing such an awful event, let alone honestly confront it in words.  These are the events that you stay silent about because they are always taken as vindictiveness.

The show on the radio was evidentally led regularly by Marcus.  It’s called, “The Poetry Show” on KUSB if anyone’s curious (sorry, I haven’t looked it up).  There were two readers, a woman and a man and the male reader read two poems from Marcus’ book of prose poems called Pursuing the Dream Bone.  The first poem was about Marcus’ Mother.  The second poem he read was about Marcus’ Father.  Turns out Marcus grew up in divorce.

His Mother married seven times; his Father was her 5th husband.  The parents divorced when Marcus was 3 years old.  He saw his Father twice after the Divorce.  Once at Age 8 during the Divorce proceedings between his parents.  The second time was at age 12 during his Mother’s 6th Divorce.  Marcus was sent to boarding school almost immediately where he spent the school year while during the summers he was sent to camp.  His Mother would visit him a few times a year.  And he lived at home at ages 9, 11, and 13 which was when he witnessed his abusive step-father.  This information is given so matter of factly in the poems it really is unreal.  I read one critic’s opinions of the poems taken from a poetic, symbolic, non-literal point of view. I wonder if other people can only hear these kinds of stories as abstract fantasy.  Of course, the poems are poetic.  Marcus choses just the right detail to describe his Mother’s narcissism and his Father’s indifference and one can certainly feel his sense of childish despair in his relationship with them. The two poems are available through Google in the link up above (if they keep the book online, that is).

Marcus recently published a memoir, Striking Through the Masks, which I plan on reading.  I guess he suffered for years from renal cancer and before that I took care of his ailing Mother for something like 8 years.  I really don’t know how he could have done that.  So many people have much bigger heart than I do.

Morton Marcus, Rest in Peace.  Thank you for your song.

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