What Would Ovid Do?

Advice and insight from a professional poet.




This is an Italian journalist at D, the weekly magazine for the main Italian newspaper la Repubblica. I’d like to write about your column? When did it start? What’s the point?
— Laura P.

It started in July 2008. The point of the column is to bring poetry into the lives of everyday people. Many people don’t read poetry anymore, but they should, because it holds many answers to our concerns, or clues for how we can cope.

Like, for example, what if you need help accepting your ugly shoes because the economy is poor and you can’t afford to buy a new pair? I’ve never seen an Italian with ugly shoes, but this is just an example. I would say to you:  Laura P., create a clever metaphor for your ugly shoes, like John Berryman does in The Dream Songs, #300: “His shoes are monumental, Egyptian, ay.” If you wrote that about your big boat shoes from the ’80s, wouldn’t you feel better?  Take intellectual ownership of your ugly shoes — make them your ugly shoes and your ugly shoes alone. Make them priceless, and be proud of them, and come up with a proactive retort to respond to anyone who gives you grief about your ugly shoes:

“Hey nice shoes, Laura P.”

“My shoes are sooty relics, Vesuvian, ay!” • 30 March 2009


Kristen Hoggatt lives, works, and writes in Boston, where she received her MFA from Emerson College. She volunteers at 826 Boston.


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