The Best Advice

The Best advice
that I
ever
heard about
writing
was from
TS Eliot

To be a poet,
he allegedly said
“Learn how to
steal with both hands!”

Hale Chatfield
told us
more than once
that as a student
at Wesleyan College
he met Robert Frost

A Classmate asked,
“Mr. Frost, what advice
would you give a young poet
who wants to start his career
in print?”

Hale would pause, in imitation
of Frost
(Though he always reminded
us of an Ohio-grade Hemingway)
and shake his jowls
“Learn how to cook.”

so I steal his story
while I put the finishing
touches on tonight’s
dinner

And write this, my latest lie.

Hale Chatfield taught writing at Hiram College. I had him for a First Year Writing course and he told this story about Robert Frost. I heard the line from Eliot on an NPR commentary many years later. Even though both are true stories, I like to play with the poet’s posture as trickster/liar.

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