25 Lines on Poetry

1. I do not like poetry.

2. I like folk songs, sea shanties, nursery rhymes, limericks, hymns, field hollers, riddles, epigrams, epigraphs, epitaphs, epithets, obituary notices, fortune cookie fortunes, square dance calls, confiscated notes, found diary entries, proverbs, anagrams, aphorisms, catcalls, insults, howls, air kisses, and handshakes, but I do not like poetry.

3. OK, maybe I like a poem or two. Or a poet or two.

4. I admit: I love the words of Walt Whitman. I unstop my throat to sing his praises. I lean and loafe at my ease with him. I laze it up.

5. Also, I admit: Emily Dickinson makes the good poems. Or made them (she is, I know, long dead). Her poems at first seem neat and tidy and even sparkly, but upon closer inspection bristle like riddles riddled with slant rhymes. Sex and death.

6. And, when I was younger: e.e. cummings (E.E. Cummings?). Later, I discovered that he was Not to be Taken Seriously as Serious Poet, Seriously.

7. But that was OK. Because I knew by then that I don’t like poetry.

8. I do like to read the occasional poem: William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, William Blake: all have written a verse or two worth pondering over for a few idle moments.

9. But I mistrust the reading of volumes of poetry.

10. I also mistrust contemporary poetry and contemporary poets (although I know very few poets, MFAs both of them, and they are very good people, but I don’t know where they get off calling themselves poets).

11. Rap lyrics are not poetry: I’m just saying.

12. I took a poetry class when I was in university. It was required. I didn’t enjoy it, not even a little. The only poem I remember liking even a little was Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “The Windhover.” I liked the alliteration, but I don’t remember what it was about. My teacher seemed to think it was a lesser poem and Hopkins was a lesser poet.

13. “Howl”–garbage? Garbage, am I right?

14. But then again, I didn’t care for On the Road.

15. I like to read a poem at random: perhaps in a periodical or a quarterly, sandwiched between factoids and graphics and fragments of narrative essay.

16. Poetry may or may not still be considered the highest art form: I think it is probably not considered the highest art form anymore: no one reads poetry anymore: not unless they have to: for school, y’know?

17. Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot: Bob Dylan wrote about these guys: Bob Dylan: not a poet: Dylan Thomas: he wrote a poem or two I like: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”: that’s a nice sentiment: a nice poem: but–

18. Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot: hard to decipher: If I’m going to put that much effort into reading something, it’s going to be Derrida or Freud or James Joyce.

19. James Joyce: not much of a poet, strangely (maybe not strangely?) enough: not strangely, I’ve decided.

20. MFA programs now produce poets who write for an audience of other MFA poets. Meanwhile, school children sing the body electric and miss all the psychological subtlety of “The Raven.”

21. Poe: Poe is the Greatest American Writer Who Never Wrote a Great American Novel (maybe if he hadn’t died in the gutter at only 40…).

22. Poe: I like his poems, in small doses (like shots of syrupy night time cold medicine, thick and green).

23. You will now forget the awful simile above: we will all agree it was poorly written: a bad idea.

24. Also, let’s forget all about points 1-21 as well, and we might as well forget about point 23 to boot.

25. In fact, the whole post has been ridiculous and ridiculous: mea culpa.

3 thoughts on “25 Lines on Poetry”

  1. Nobody told me it wasn’t important. But maybe you’re addressing my readers (as in “Hey, Biblioklept readers, he’s wrong, Howl is good!”). Like I said, I don’t like poetry at all, and Howl I found almost ungetthroughable.


  2. I know this is an older post, but I came across it when it was linked to someone else’s “similar” post.

    It’s interesting that you don’t like poetry because your list reads like a poem with it’s repetition and sounds.


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