Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wishy-Washiness in Poetry

Oh Crist.

Note: most of this post has nothing to do with Eliot or his lack of depth -- just how poets respond to each other.

So I'm a browsin' on them interwebs and I come across some ridiculousness about Eliot having a lack of depth. Apart from this being utterly ridiculous, people were disagreeing with idocies such as:

"I think poetry is too personal to dismiss any one poet as overrated. If it doesn't speak to you, then it doesn't, and I don't believe you should force it. But don't look down on other people who do see beauty in the words."

Seriously -- Oh Charlie Crist what is wrong with you people?

Perhaps much of the problem lies here, but surely we CAN NOT believe that poetry being "too personal" makes it immune to all criticism? The above quote represents everything evil and rotten about today's poetry.

Wishy-washies think that every fart is sacred, especially when it comes at the end of a pen. This applies not only to their own egotistical fartings but, in an insane sociopathic form of egalitarianism, to every one else's farts as well. Even when you can tell the work stinks to high heaven, there is still some onus to labeling it as excrement.

Why is this?

Apart from the reference above, I think it has to do with two ideas:

One -- don't insult the establishment. I have just done this. Ronnie is pretty much established. You don't want to do this because they control all the gates of publishing and the keys to the kingdom of being a "poet." This is hogwash. If you are unsure of this, read below.

Two -- that saying, out of hand, "this work is terrible -- it is not only not poetry but it is not even literature" somehow means you "don't understand" the work. Let me tell you -- if someone has to explain their poetry to a literate person (one of the 100 million Americans who read 2 or more books a year) then THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. Perhaps they are not writing poetry. Perhaps they are clouding their lack of talent in the smoke and mirrors of academia, shock value, and pretension.

Perhaps the Emperor has no clothes.

The problem with this approach is that, as I have said before, once "anything" can become poetry, "everything" is poetry. Which means that nothing is. Just like Syndrome wanting to give superpowers to everyone, the dilution of what poetry means means that poetry means nothing.

So -- for today, after you read this blog and send it to your friends and continue the discussion about how to revive narrative poetry and kill off all the over-formulaic lyric verse we have now,
think about how we can disengage ourselves from the weak-language of faux-egalitarianism and begin to write criticism in a way that has meaning.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

This was a really, really well-worded rant, I must say! I definitely agree with what you've said. It's a common problem in a lot of different areas, not just writing, but in nearly every artistic area - if it's bad, and you don't like it, you must not "get" it, because the creator of it is just super-special.

Thanks for the honest assessment.