Patsy Porco

Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania … and Nora?

In Books, Humor, Writing on August 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I just finished a book, Murder Me Now, by Annette Meyers, about a bohemian flapper poet/detective, Olivia Brown. When Olivia isn’t detecting (or drinking gin in Greenwich Village speak-easies), she composes poems which she later recites to her adoring fans. And her fans are legion. People stop her on the street, halt their conversations on trains, and line up for hours outside a venue at which she is scheduled to appear, just to hear her recite her work.

Between you and me, I find it hard to believe that poetry was ever that esteemed, even a century ago. Poetry confuses me. But, I don’t think most poets know what they’re writing about anyway, so I’ve never worried about my lack of insight into a poem’s meaning.

Olivia, however, is no regular poet/detective. She has a muse, whom she creatively calls “Muse.” When she feels a poem upon her, she only has to sit at her desk and ask Muse for inspiration. Nine times out of ten, Muse puts all of the poem’s words into Olivia’s head, in sonnet form. All that Olivia has to do is type.

I’m no stranger to muses. I’ve been known to ask deceased writers to a-muse me. Sometimes you’ll hear a person say that a living person is his muse, but the person talking is usually a man who has designs on the woman he calls his muse. As soon as their relationship fizzles out, he’s on to another muse.

I prefer a muse who is dead. You don’t have to meet for coffee or buy thank-you presents for spirit muses. If I could find a muse who would write my blog posts for me, instead of just inspiring me, that would be another plus in the muse’s favor.

My favorite form of writing is the humorous essay. When Erma Bombeck died, on my birthday, I took it as a sign that she was to be my muse. I asked her to inspire me and, for a while there, I thought she did. But I get the feeling that she didn’t find me funny enough to bother with, so she moved on.

I think that either David Sedaris or Dave Barry would be a perfect fit as my muse, but they’re still alive, which rules them out … for now. In the meantime, the search continues, but I think I’m getting close to finding myself a muse.

It’s said that everything happens for a reason, so when my friend recently loaned me her copy of a Nora Ephron book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, I took note. When I started reading, I had a eureka moment: “Eureka! I have found her!” I know, like I’ve never known anything before, that I would very much like Nora Ephron to be my muse. I would welcome her inspiration. I would really welcome her actually writing my blog posts, but I’ll work up to that request.

In the meantime, I have to get Nora to agree to take me on, which might be too much to ask of her. In fact, she’s probably appalled that I’m asking her to muse me at all — especially since I am incorrectly using the word “muse” as a verb meaning “inspire.”

In Nora’s lifetime, she was a talented, sophisticated, intelligent, witty, sardonic, and hilarious writer who was widely admired. Why would she lower herself to muse me?

The answer is: because I’m alive and she’s not. I can keep her voice alive during the rest of my lifetime. That reason alone might sway her. After all,  even though she died, I’m certain that she still has lots to say.

What do you say, Nora?

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