Sunday, September 06, 2009

Where's a good vaticide when you need one?

Poetry just gets me more and more confused these days. They have a habit, for instance, of writing poems without rhymes, which just makes me confused. What's a poem without rhymes? Isn't it just a collection of sentences? I think I'd prefer a rhyme without poems. 

Also, there's this thing about called free verse. I can't exactly explain it except by analogy: free verse is like free love, except without the orgasms or the nudity. And as for free love, as everyone knows, it is a progressive and important social development, which is why most people keep on getting married. Free verse is another progressive and important social development, and consequently, this explains why many people keep on reading poems with rhymes and verses that scan. 

All that is by the by: but, just last night, I noticed another, singularly malicious tendency of poets. 

Poets have a habit of reproducing. 

Now, in most cases this itself is commendable, although if you are a poet who believes in free love as well as free verse, you might have difficulties with this. (The whole point of free love is not to have babies: you wouldn't want to stretch the free love too far, you see.)

However: many poets have a habit of reproducing and then writing poems about the progeny whom are their reproduction. 

This, too, is in itself fine, and has led to many superb examples of the poetic art: Peter Skrzynecki* has done it. Yeats has done it. And Komninos has done it, too. 

Nevertheless: after the writing of these poems, the poets have a habit of publishing them, circulating them, and reading them to audiences decades after the birth of their child. 

Like all philosophers asking the hard questions, like Job challenging his God, like the toddler asking his father why he cannot probe his proboscis with his pinkie on the tram, I find myself trembling with anguish as I ask the inevitable question: why? why? in God's name, why? Isn't this just the verbal equivalent of taking nudie snaps of your children as babies, and then dispatching them to that child's first date? Or circulating them round to guests at the wedding? 

In this day and age, ought there not to be letters written into the paper, people calling up radio stations, having hard discussions with their local members, and laws made in the parliament about this legitimate case of child abuse? One hesitates to use the term**, but isn't this the most obvious case for a hue and cry that you have ever heard? 

Poets! Think of the children! Before it's too late!

*To pronounce his name, just put a bucketful of coleslaw into your mouth, and gargle. To spell his name, take a swig of vodka, throw a bunch of scrabble letters at the board, and panic. 

**One also hesitates to use the term 'one hesitates to use the term', but there are times at which one must use the term 'one hesitates to use the term', unhesitatingly. 


Maria said...

I've heard of free verse, also heard of blank verse, what's the difference?

It conjures up a different mental imagery for m. Free verse, has it escaped from a cage, or are they giving some away with every purchase of a cupcake at your local bakery?

Is it like free hugs?

Blank verse? Is that like verse that just isn't there? Do you write it in invisible ink?

I'm afraid I'm more of a fan of the rhymed verse meself, though I like a haiku sometimes, and I have read some really good blank verse that has touched me.

On the other hand some of it looks quite weird and lazy and has a tendency to do so more than rhymed verse where at least you abve this feeling that the author had to look up a rhyme even if the poem does feel like rhyming rubbish.

I have said with some blank verse it looks like someone picked up a piece of prose and then reformatted it to make it look a bit more poetic. Not all free verse is like that, but some does look suspiciously like someone took their mundane prose and thought "How will I make this look more inspired?" and thought about turning it into free verse.

A bit like this.

(Here's a letter in front of me)

According to our records you are due for a routine Dental checkup. Please phone the surgery to arrange a convenient appointment time. Yours Sincerely Dr Blah.

Now imagine an aspiring poet-dental receptionist generating one of these forms, thinking - ah hah - material! Here's a sample of something she might read out on Poet's Night.

to our
records .... records ...
you are due
(for a routine)
checkupcheckupcheckup please
phone the


a convenient appoint


time time time time YOURS

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiincerely Dr


I can imagine some people gushing about how man that poem moved them, it was so deep and existential and symbolic, truly it was a reflection of postmodernist culture and an expression of the tortures of Generation Y or something else they could think up to say about it.

At least that is how I felt while I was writing it.

Deep man.

TimT said...

Your comment raises a number of questions in me.

For instance:

Yes, but what happened at the dentists in the end?

Maria said...

In free verse, they are free to leave that question unanswered.

IN blank verse ... that question draws a blank.

TimT said...

Then there's Carpe Diem dentist verse:

Maria! Seize the day!
Come to the dentists right away!
We're really looking forward to your pay!

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive