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comment by Odder

Despite that fact that this poet thinks he's writing crappy poetry, that fact that more people can easily identify with the short, pop poetry means that often, that's what people have the energy to read and understand. And you can make a case that in some ways that makes it better.

I know we're supposed to glorify deep, esoteric poetry that's hard to figure out because such poetry supposedly comes from deep, esoteric people with complex feelings, but the reality is that most of the time, most people's feelings aren't complex, and that's okay. There's virtue in simplicity. If a four word pop poem reminds someone of some fond memory or feeling they once had, and they feel a little bit better about life for a few minutes, hasn't it done it's job?

I wonder where it all went wrong. Most of the 19th century poets I've read have fairly easy to read poems, at least compared to the 20th century ones, which is strange since the 20th century folks supposedly had more similar lives to me and spoke a language that was closer to mine. I think what happened was that academic poetry started valuing differences rather than similarities,. To be good, you now had to show how special and different you were from everyone else, rather than writing poetry that everyone could identify with. As a result everyone without an English degree stopped trying to read poetry.

kleinbl00  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I wonder where it all went wrong.

Free verse.

As soon as you can call any goddamn wordvomit a poem, the only arbiters of taste will be those sheep-dipped into an inward-looking culture of exclusion.

    I have eaten

    the plums

    that were in

    the icebox

    and which

    you were probably


    for breakfast

    Forgive me

    they were delicious

    so sweet

    and so cold

I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox, and which you were probably saving for breakfast. Forgive me, they were delicious - so sweet and so cold.


Odder  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah, I was thinking of T.S. Eliot, who is from the same time period as that.

The article had a sample of a supposedly good poem at the bottom:

    She came home

    and had grown gills

    and he sat in a pool

    of water with dull black eyes

    and a tongue that swatted

    flies out of the hot dry air

    later that night

    they ate fried steaks

    and hash

    things were different


    but they didn’t say


    as they watched

    Johnny Carson

    knowing he died

    long ago

It's basically the same as the plums, just trying harder.

user-inactivated  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

One of my creative writing teachers was very into surrealist prose poetry. They very much tried to get me to try my hand writing surrealist prose poetry. With the exception of one that I wrote when I was delirious with food poisoning, I hate every single surrealist prose poem I ever written. All three of them.

Edit: Also, this kind of literary trolling isn't new.


Odder  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Trolling isn't new, it's that what's considered trolling is writing things that people want to read.

user-inactivated  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Both Bynner and Ficke were accomplished poets of their time, but the Spectra poems are probably the most widely remembered of their work. Both authors admitted to the hoax having backfired to a certain extent, as it overshadowed their more serious work. Nonetheless, Ficke stated that he learned a good deal about composition while writing as Knish, adding that it actually influenced his later work.

History seems to have a tendency to repeat itself.

ArtemusBlank  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I can see why a poem like that can be frustrating as it seems like something anyone could have made. It definitely is head scratching.

Out of boredom, I did a parody piece of that poem today.

    It was hot

    She dreamed of ice

    She got up and took

    the last popsicle

    It was lemon flavored

    I got hot

    I dreamed of ice as well

    I got up

    I wanted a popsicle

    I saw that she was eating

    the last popsicle

    They were in her luscious lips

    All she could say was, "I'm

    sorry I ate the last

    popsicle, it was delicious."

    All I could say to that

    was, "I'm sorry I'm not

    William Carlos Williams,

    by the way we have no

    more plums."

kleinbl00  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Add bongos and William Shatner and it’s a party.

Is it just me or does free verse all sound like King Missile lyrics?

coffeesp00ns  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

if only to be contrarian, i would say that I do find this poetic, even in its single line form as you recreated it.

now, that gets into an argument of what is poetic and what is poetry and where do the two intersect, but I don't think it's unfair to say that the feeling you get from reading something that is poetic and the feeling you get from reading poetry is similar, if not the same.

kleinbl00  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Now argue that I need to find it poetic.

I give two shits what you find poetic. However, the act of teaching poetry means defining what is or isn't poetic, assigning grades to those opinions, and stifling dissent against the prevailing view of what is or isn't poetic.

Here, I'll say something controversial:

poetry is a vestigial remnant of an era of illiteracy where the majority of the public was incapable of creating or consuming the written word, so words written with particular artistry were elevated to a new art form through their sheer rarity.

coffeesp00ns  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't think we have to find the same things poetic

I think you're railing less against poetry and more against the prevailing culture of how we teach art. I don't disagree with you either, that what academics see as "good" versus what is often actually good (or perceived as good by modern taste) can be quite different, or that academics can be unnecessarily exclusive. Spoiler alert, they are, because most academics can't survive without an air of exclusivity. Universities can be gross about exclusivity and I say this as someone who's got two degrees and is heading back for another diploma.

    poetry is a vestigial remnant of an era of illiteracy where the majority of the public was incapable of creating or consuming the written word, so words written with particular artistry were elevated to a new art form through their sheer rarity

This is actually a decent explanation of the beginning of written poetry. I totally agree. We went on to do other things with poetry after this, but this is exactly where it came from.

Or even to go further, Poetry came from when we used rhythm and rhyming to remember long stories, such as the Sagas, or Beowulf, or the works of Homer, or the Epic of Gilgamesh. But how did we decide what was good enough to write down? the words that were written with, as you say " particular artistry". It's not like Beowulf was the only story being told, but it was one of the ones that someone thought was good enough to write down, and the one that someone thought was good enough to save from a fire, and the one that people thought was good enough to keep preserved for almost 1000 years.

kleinbl00  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I think you're railing less against poetry and more against the prevailing culture of how we teach art.

Absolutely. But I also think that poetry, more than any other art form, is inextricably intertwined with that prevailing culture.

Poetry, for practical purposes, has escaped to song lyrics and children's books. Poetry, for academic purposes, has disappeared up its own asshole. So if you want to enjoy poetry, listen to song lyrics and read children's books. But if you want to learn about poetry, enjoy being up some academic's asshole because even if you type "modern sonnet" into Google you get Edna St. Vincent Millay and if you want to read the "pushcart nominated" poetry of the guy who started this whole dumpster fire with his Instagram slagging you get

    you can't find


    but you'll



    you feel


    because it will

    be forever

Poetry used to be this shit. Now? We're giving awards to Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey and slagging on kids who can't tell the difference between faux intellectualism and parody faux intellectualism.

You know what? The spiritual successors of Coleridge aren't Instagram fuckhead, they're goddamn Public Enemy:

And now, Ludacris freestyles a Llama Llama book.

Isherwood  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My feeling on modern poetry is that it becomes modern pedantry. It's 10% about the content and 90% about the qualifications of the content. It seems, more and more, it's a way for intellectuals to practice debating without discussing anything of meaning.

coffeesp00ns  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Most poetry ever written probably follows that percentage, and that definition.

I'm going to make what might be a bold statement here:

Most art is garbage, even the educated stuff (sometimes especially the educated stuff). Take classical music for an example (as it's my main focus). There are thousands of composers writing music right now. Maybe one of them will be remembered in 100 years. Even of the people we think of "Great 20th century composers", Copland, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Gershwin, Shoenberg, Ellington, and others, perhaps two or three will be remembered and celebrated in the way that we remember and celebrate people like Bach and Mozart. Even then, not everything the "Masters" wrote was great- Beethoven's "Wellington's Victory" has generally been seen as awful from the moment it premiered.

You have to run under the assumption that most of the art you will ever see created in your lifetime with be crap, and even the stuff that will be good will be forgotten, just like every other age. Museums can make this deceptive, showcasing the greatest art from 500 years and more, but it's not that those people didn't have to deal with crap. It's that the crap has dried up and blown away, leaving (mostly) the good stuff.

So what i'm saying is that your statement is correct, but it is also correct for every other era of poetry, and every other kind of art.

kleinbl00  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The problem is that academics get to define what is crap and what isn't, and force that narrative. John Gardner blew several chapters arguing that people teach what is easy to demonstrate, not what is good, the end result being that pedantry defines a genre, not quality. And, the longer someone's been dead the less controversy there is.

I had an English teacher argue that James Fenimore Cooper was art because millions of people loved his books but Stephen King was not because. And then she changed the subject. The fact that we're forced to choke down Leatherstocking bullshit purely because everyone read it back then is like arguing kids 200 years from now are gonna have to read goddamn Twilight because it was on every supermarket shelf, while arguing no one should read Twilight now because Stephanie Meyer isn't a hundred years dead.

Most art is garbage. But "experts" get to elevate their garbage choices and lord their expertise over the rest of us.

And we hate you for it.

ArtemusBlank  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The thing with pop poetry I have seen on Instagram is that it really doesn't try too hard to be different. It's the usual love things. It's things that people have written time and time again but are just wording a little differently. There's no problem with people enjoying short and simple things but at the same time, it should try to challenge somewhat but not to the point that no one can understand. There just needs to be something in the middle really.

I think there is only two really prominent poetry scenes these days if you would like to call it that, academic poetry and poetry slam scene. Both scenes are scenes that a lot of people just don't fit into because it's scenes that are just trying too hard. One, you need to be really into social issues and the other you really need to be serious with no humor at all and just follow the guidelines given by the leading academic poets no matter what it is. There really isn't anything for people in the middle. No voice for the common man and when that happens, everyone definitely tunes out.

Odder  ·  828 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Does something need to be different or new to be good? I think there's a time for challenging people and expanding their horizons, but there's also time for reminding them what they already value in life. The more ways we find to say things that are true, the more that people will believe them, and the more they can identify with people in the past who felt the same way. It's too easy to get caught up in the drama and the mechanical business of life, and forget about all the reasons why putting up with all of that is worth it.

I agree though, that whatever good poetry is, it needs to be something that people can identify with.