Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Poetry As a Kick in the Nuts

Hearts and flowers and poetry about poetry are matters that give a bad case of the grabs; it makes my underwear bunch up in the crouch and my hair coil like rusty Brillo pads. A poet of precious sensibility recently posted such a poem on a forum I won't name. It ignited nearly all my jets. Here's a sample stanza:

The poet, you see, is a murderer
Killing living things for the pleasure of others
Perhaps it would be better, if
We gave more thought to those things
Which ere already dead, like

First, one ought not eschew their principle obligation as a writer to write poems that are somehow engaged in living and instead make poetry even less important and trivial to the general public's concern by indulgent stanzas reaffirming a tattered mythos and hype about the craft. It makes the image of poetry even more club-housy than it already is, at a more provincial level. It really needs to be a standard bit of the discipline for poets to keep the business of poetry, even it's mention, out of their lines. Poetry about poetry is dead on arrival, and it reinforces the larger population's attitude that it's elitist and profoundly irrelevant. Stop embalming the art.

In any case, one should avoid as well writing anything that declares or implies that poetry and poets are anyone thing, or exist to perform any one purpose; there are general rules, yes, that define what poetry is , and there is a critical vocabulary as well, but within those limits , poetry can be pretty much anything a poetry chooses it to be; the limits are the talents of the writer in question. Some poets might be compared to murderers, but uttered here the way it is, sweepingly, full of misty eyed bathos and crawling diction, it sounds unconvincing, it sounds phony, and whatever point you wanted to make is lost because it sounds pretentious and will piss off more people than it will ever convince