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Description of Poetry Challenged

November 08, 1987

I found the characterization of my poetry in the Sept. 20 article, "Poets Say Their Pieces in Long Beach--and People Listen," both offensive and inaccurate.

David Haldane wrote: "And Heidi Ziolkowski . . . read sweet poems of motherly love and graphic, erotic descriptions of sex with foreign men."

I admit my poetry is erotic, though far from graphic. I never use "dirty words" and very rarely mention genitals. Moreover, none of the poems I read that evening detailed sex with foreign men. The only references to foreigners were in "For Yanira," a political poem about the brutal rape of a Salvadoran woman by men from the death squads, and "At the Vietnam Memorial," in which an American woman kisses the hair on the head of a Vietnamese man. To my thinking, neither rape nor tender kisses constitute "sex with foreign men."

As for my other poems, I rarely use the male pronoun, but rather the second-person singular. In this way, the "I" and the "you" can be male or female, depending on the reader/listener's preferences.

HEIDI ZIOLKOWSKI

Long Beach

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