The Lie

By Anne Waldman b. 1945 Anne Waldman
Art begins with a lie
      The separation is you plus me plus what we make   
            Look into lightbulb, blink, sun’s in your eye

I want a rare sky
      vantage point free from misconception   
            Art begins with a lie

Nothing to lose, spontaneous rise   
      of reflection, paint the picture
            of a lightbulb, or eye the sun

How to fuel the world, then die   
      Distance yourself from artfulness   
            How? Art begins with a lie

The audience wants to cry
      when the actors are real & passionate
            Look into footlight, then feed back to eye

You fluctuate in an artful body
      You try to imitate the world’s glory
            Art begins with a lie
                  That’s the story, sharp speck in the eye.

Anne Waldman, “The Lie” from Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems, 1966-1988. Copyright © 1989 by Anne Waldman. Reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press, Minneapolis,

Source: Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems 1966-1988 (Coffee House Press, 1989)

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Poet Anne Waldman b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Villanelle

 Anne  Waldman


The author of more than 40 collections of poetry and poetics, Anne Waldman is an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement, and has been connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School. Her publications include Fast Speaking Woman (1975), Marriage: A Sentence (2000), and the multi-volume Iovis project (1992, 1993, 1997).

Her work as a cultural activist and her practice of Tibetan . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Poetic Terms Villanelle

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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