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Writing an autobiography in poetry form


My first published poem: Lingonberries Are Not Sufficient
Carl Djerassi Scientist
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But here is a poem, that was the first poem that was ever accepted for publication, so that was my first published poem in a reputable good poetry magazine and it tells you the entire story of this love affair, and it’s called, "Lingonberries Are Not Sufficient", is the title. And that already shows, you know, it’s a bit more subtle because reading this title doesn’t tell you anything about what it’s all about.
When we met
I spoke and you laughed. 
Just laughed.
"Come live with me
And write.
I’ll feed and launder you."
You laughed and came.

For a man to feed his lover, 
To do her laundry,
To really give her Virginia Woolf’s 
Room of One’s Own
Is a serious gift 
Not a laughing matter.
He-the tea drinker-learned to make coffee. 
Her type of coffee.
The coffee grinder’s machine-gun rattle 
Was morning music to her ears.
Dark French Roast, the only acceptable ammunition.

The first cup brought to her to her shower,
The next while she dried herself,
The third, fourth and fifth at breakfast.
The heated bagel.
The carefully segmented grapefruit	
Coloured with his personal touch:
Lingonberries from Sweden.
You stopped laughing.
You wrote poems.	
Like Scheherazade.	
As long as she spun tales
She lived.
As long as you wrote, 
Your pasha supported you
In a style to which you were not accustomed.
The ambiance became so oriental,	
Your poems even sang lines like

And I'm quoting

   "Sunday morning: Fog drifts like steam 
    Across the windows of this room, lit like a jewel.
   'Like a Turkish bordello!'"
How good is your new lover’s coffee?
Does he make you cut your own grapefruit?
Does he add lingonberries from Sweden?
Should I be generous?
Should I send him lingonberries?
Well, that showed I was moving forward.

Austrian-American Carl Djerassi (1923-2015) was best known for his work on the synthesis of the steroid cortisone and then of a progesterone derivative that was the basis of the first contraceptive pill. He wrote a number of books, plays and poems, in the process inventing a new genre, 'science-in-fiction', illustrated by the novel 'Cantor's Dilemma' which explores ethics in science.

Listeners: Tamara Tracz

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Lingonberries Are Not Sufficient

Duration: 2 minutes, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008