Sunday, 27 February 2011

ASIAN CHA Issue#13 Editorial

originally posted here

When You Live with a Poet

When you live with a poet, you know exactly which three-year-old work she means when she asks, "Did you like the enjambment in the second stanza?"

When you live with a poet, you are expected to know words like "enjambment."

When you live with a poet, you need to have a job. It is hard to retire on a poet's salary.

Right from the start of your life with the poet, you come to understand that she does not see the world in the same way as other people.

When you live with a poet, you realize that books make gift-giving easy and cheap, especially when bought second hand. The poet thinks that used books have more character anyway.

While working at your job because you are living with a poet, you learn not to panic when you receive an email with URGENT!!!! in the subject line, knowing it will contain her latest work, which "Really needs to be proofread now. It is very important that I don’t miss the deadline for _____ Review."

When corresponding with a poet, it is advisable not to write sarcastic replies about the "importance" of submitting anything to ________ Review.

When you live with a poet, you get used to being plagiarized, although the poet prefers to call it "fair use."

When you live with a poet, you somehow know without asking that the fair use policy is not reciprocal.

One night, during your life with the poet, you will find yourself explaining that her reading Auden out loud while you do the dishes is not quite the equal division of labor she seems to think it is.

When you live with a poet, you become very good at counting syllables and thinking of rhymes.

When you argue with a poet, it is bad news if she starts taking notes.

Even though you live with the poet, she thinks you will somehow believe her latest poem is not "autobiographical in any way."

When you live with a poet, you sometimes catch her staring at teacups or laughing at a single sock. You pray to god that this has something to do with being a poet.

When discussing living arrangements with the poet, you actually hear her say that she will do the laundry when she "is inspired."

Sometimes you wish you did not live with a poet.

When you live with a poet, you learn it is a compliment if your newly baked bread has her reaching for a pen instead of a butter knife.

If, while cohabitating with your poet, you hear the hoover running, you do not assume that this means she has been inspired into domestic duties. You know it is just as likely you will find her sitting next to the vacuum with a worried expression on her face, "Does it sound more like Brrrrr or Wrrrrr? I can't get the onomatopoeia right."

When you live with a poet, you automatically reply it is more like "Vrrrrr," as if this kind of thing happens all the time in other houses.

When you live with a poet, you are amazed by her creativity, but wish she didn’t always have such a goddamn active imagination.

When you live with a poet, you live with a poet.

After a few years living with a poet, you start to worry about who will have to pack all those books when you move.

When you have spent enough time living with a poet, you no longer complain when her typing wakes you up at night. Instead you put in earplugs and go back to sleep, content that at least she is writing.

Living with a poet is easier when she is writing than when she is not.

Every day you live with the poet, you become more and more grateful she does not see the world the same way as other people.

You hope you will always live with the poet.

Jeff Zroback / Co-editor
27 February, 2011

Leave a comment and tell us what it's like living with your writer/poet.


  1. COMMENT: "I think I'm quite a reasonable poet to live with but I'm sure my partner will roll his eyes too! Hee hee enjoyed your article." -five_element

  2. COMMENT: "Cha: an asian literary journal has another fine issue out...I'm enjoying re-reading poems by Jeffrey Leong, Mary-Jane Newton, Divya Rajan and others...check it out here. Also, while there check out the tender, funny review by Jeff Zroback...guaranteed to make you smile..." -Bob

  3. COMMENT: "This made me laugh, from the editorial in the new issue of Cha: "When you live with a poet, you are expected to know words like "enjambment."; "When you live with a poet, you need to have a job."" -Steve

  4. COMMENT: "Jeff's piece is very good although surely there should be a line: "When you live with a poet, your palms bleed from the cuts your fingernails make as you hope you will not lose control and bitchslap her to the floor."" -Anonymous

  5. Everybody wants to live with me. I guess I'm not a poet,

  6. In response to the 'bitchslap' comment, Steven said: "the 'bitchslap' comment sounds like a good poem to me; there could be a lot of writing on the floor for this one."

  7. May I give 10 "likes" to this very witty editorial? It's so comical but at the same time, if readers know that poet in person, they may find it very HER, and it just can't be more realistic!
    Well, not all poets are as cute as yours?
    And I love the end too... Well done!

  8. Discovered this when sent a tweet from a poet...My husband may be inspired to write a companion piece on living with a novelist (We are much, much easier, of course. In fact, a never ending source of delight)

  9. Thank you for visiting this site, Bridget. If your husband does write a companion piece, we would love to read it!

  10. COMMENT: "My partner read Jeff's "When You Live with a Poet" and thoroughly enjoyed it. He says he can identify with the author. :)"

  11. COMMENT: "bittersweet! but more sweet than bitter! so a new word should be invented for this --- 'sweetbitter'"

  12. COMMENT: "I got a good chuckle out of the editorial in CHA's current issue. Very clever, and sweet, at the end."

  13. I always thought I lived with a poet, but maybe I don't.

  14. COMMENT: "showed Jeff's piece to my husband, so he gets a laugh... He says, why does this sound so familiar? :D"

  15. Wow Jeff. I may never cease to plagerize you:) Starting was it my grade 10... and now almost fifteen years later!
    But it worked! She smiled! Future Pozers may thank you...

  16. hmmm...

    some yes, some no, some
    perhaps. But then, truly, how
    can I ever know?

    ~Some Random Poet

  17. Thanks, Jeff, I meant to say this is beautiful the first time I read it, and I'm coming on to read it the second time now. This reminds me of 'Anniversary Song':



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