NEA Literature Fellowships

Sally Dawidoff

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(2005 - Poetry)

Excerpt from "Visiting Hour"

Your average schizophrenic will dilute
chaos with lies: "Once upon a time
I had a daughter. She's a prostitute."

Delusions are a coping style - neurotic,
almost. I "get" that. Every time
I leave, I check the stove. (Idiotic.

I don't cook.) I used to think one ought
to challenge the delusion: "Like in Times
Square? Turning tricks?" I thought

wrong; he'd just smile and nod. You argue
with psychosis, sister, you're wasting your time.
Surely I have better things to do -

learn to cook, go out on a date
with my ex. . . So when I find the time
to meet my father for coffee, I tolerate

his news. Be Nicer is my newfound motto.
"Dad, that's nice you're dating Renata Scotto."

Sally Dawidoff earned an MFA from Columbia University's School of the Arts. Her poetry has appeared in diverse literary journals including Agni and Boston Review. Until recently, she taught English and directed the middle-school community service program at The Chapin School in New York City; she currently teaches a poetry workshop at The City University of New York.

Photo by Lisbeth R. Wiener

Author's Statement

The NEA fellowship is allowing me to work part-time for a year in order to devote myself to writing poetry. The grant is also making it possible for me to collaborate with a composer on musical projects. My work is benefiting from the extended periods of time I now have. I'm exceedingly grateful to the NEA.