April 15, 2004

Bad Poetry Thursday

I've spoken before about my problems with modern poetry: the ridiculous affected punctuations, the senseless liberty with capitalization (referred to as e.e. cummings disease), and the fact that a lot of modern poetry isn't really poetry at all--just a paragraph broken into artsy looking chunks to RESEMBLE poetry.

Of course, I could spend pages on why modern poets have such misguided and stupid ideas about what constitutes poetry, and thus explain why it is that "just anybody" truly CAN write a "poem" nowadays, but such an essay would be at best humorless and at worst a venting of spleen the likes of which hasn't been seen for centuries, so let's just keep it light and mock some bad poetry instead, okay?

Lately, the best place to go to mock what's wrong with modern poetry is Poets Against the War, which is a catchall for every sin against rhyme, meter, and composition. Don't get me wrong--it's not impossible to write excellent poetry of a political stripe. Anthologies have long included thoughtful, politically-themed poems. But this site isn't an anthology so much as a vanity project, and it shows.

My selection today is based upon the "Why exactly is this called a "poem" again?" criteria, because it isn't. A poem. It's an unfinished work, a truncated short story from a writer who came up with a metaphor he or she really liked and spat it forth, form be damned. Yeah, that rhyme, meter and form stuff? Tools of the Man. Fight the power!

Bottom line, though--this is NOT A POEM! DO NOT CALL IT A POEM! GAAAAHHHHHH! Just put up a sister site called, "Really, really short essays and stories and other pieces of mental effluvia against the war," file it there, and be done with it. There may be good poetry on Poets Against the War, but no one has bothered to sort wheat from chaff, so after reading that linked poem, a couple of treatises from a pissed off 14 year old (is there any other kind?) with a penchant for using "bullshit" in his verse, and eight to ten sufferers of "cummings disease," I was driven to "look on (these) works...and despair."

Yeah, I am a nitpicky, schoolmarmish purist when it comes to poetry. Wanna fight about it?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at April 15, 2004 10:15 AM

I usually hide a message in the first letter of each line.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at April 15, 2004 11:59 AM

I thought all you genteel southern ladies called 'em 'pomes'.

Posted by: ManFromPorlock at April 15, 2004 01:41 PM

What do you think of James Tate ``The Blue Booby'' in any old Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (p.1387 in mine)

No rhyme, no meter. It' variously on the net but everybody ruins the enjambments for some reason.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at April 15, 2004 07:30 PM