Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why Narrative Poetry?

Firstly -- people love stories.

Secondly, think about poems you either remember reading as a kid or you read to your kids. This is not to say that Uncle Shelby worked entirely within the realm of narrative verse -- but what poem are you going to remember? Smart? Ickle-Me, Tickle-Me-Too? Yeah. That's what I thought.

And who doesn't love a little bit of the old snicker-snack?

I mean, do you remember reading Shakespeare's sexy sonnets as a kid? And by "as a kid" I mean in gradeschool?

Probably not.

So here we have an audience waiting for a good story that might be rhythmical, or rhyming, or somehow playful with language. And we give them nothing except for things that are very long and kind of maybe difficult to read and understand.

Why not? Why do we hate our readers? No other group of writers hates their readers.
And, magically enough, they have readers. Lots of them. How many do poets have? Precious few (if anyone has a bookscan account, you can actually look this number up for us).

So instead of trying to get more readers, we piss on them or pretend they're so stupid they can't actually breathe.

Why? Well, I won't go into Collins today. But as for the pissah part -- it's because we've forgotten that ART comes from CRAFT -- we've led ourselves to believe that somehow art comes from deep within us and so when someone doesn't like us, it's because they suck, not because we do.

Now, where's the easiest way to hide the fact that poets are talentless hacks? The same place it is in art -- "expression." Now, just like you can't paint a portrait with drunken pukes from a paintcan, you can't tell a story with slammed-up words and nonsense. So what do you do?

Write lyric poetry. And then, magically, no one can tell that you're bad because they don't know what you're talking about (I'm not even going to get into the epic-lyric [today]). Because when you tell a story, boys and girls -- as they say in Atonement: ''Your most sophisticated readers might be well up on the latest Bergsonian theories of consciousness, but I'm sure they retain a childlike desire to be told a story, to be held in suspense, to know what happens.''

In other words, you can't cheat the narrative.

More later,

1 comment:

Black Sea said...

"The trouble with most poetry, quite simply, is that it is too much like poetry: too damn much."
--James Dickey