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In 1979

While arranging a poetry reading

at Boston University for a Russian poet

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I was assigned help from Elena

from alumni administration.

My first book had come out.

"Do you know how good you are?"

"Well" I said, "I would have stayed

in advertising if I thought I were bad."

"It's the same thing," said Elena.

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"Poems advertise the poet."

"No" I objected. "That's not the point.

The reader has to find himself in...."

"It's all show biz. And I could do a lot

for you if you'd let me.

You dress all wrong for a poet."

I looked down at my little tweed

skirt, my loafers. 1979.

"You should wear long peasant skirts,

heavy jewelry. And a cape. Always a cape."

I laughed.

"You laugh too much." she said. "People

don't take you seriously. You have to

wear a black cape and arrive late.

You're always early. Make people

wait. Have heads turn."

"But that wouldn't be me."

"Of course it would. Your poems say,

'Hey, look at me.' Why can't your clothes?"

"My poems say, 'I hope this speaks to you.' "

"No. Poems say, 'Look at this cape.' "

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