Shabby Proletarian Poetasters

 

Today anyone can scribble prose onto a page, give it arbitrary line breaks and call it a poem. Infamously, the minor American poets Robert Creely and Robert Bly got away with doing this, spawning generations of MFA wannabes and imitators. The post-modernist poem, known across the great pond as the McPoem, is not anything that a sophisticated reader could actually admire as he or she would Shelly’s Ozymandias or Roy Campell’s The Zebras. Rather, in our shabby social democratic times, it is a proletarian poem that any poetaster or poetasteress can write and easily get published.

from: counter-currents.com

Poetry as Nonsensical Sophistication

There is the poem of nonsensical sophistication, which is so filled with private code words and diffuse references that one can’t possibly find a steady toehold. This sort of poem is slippery as an eel, and again very easy to imitate, because the second one is pinned down by a thought one can slide over to another. An example is Terrance Hayes’s “A House Is Not a Home,” part of which reads: “I decided then, even as my ears fattened, / to seek employment at the African-American / Acoustic and Audiological Accident Insurance Institute, / where probably there is a whole file devoted / to Luther Vandross.” Hayes continues later: “I already know there is a difference / between hearing and listening, / but to get the job, I bet I will have to learn / how to transcribe church fires or how to categorize / the dozen or so variations of gasping, one of which / likely includes Ron and me in the eighth grade / the time a neighbor flashed her breasts at us.”

What? What is the “African-American Acoustic and Audiological Accident Insurance Institute”? You’ll find lots of this made-up capitalized stuff in current American poetry—an easy way to import portentousness when the material is flimsy to the point of nonexistence. Luther Vandross, transcribing church fires, eighth grade breast flashing—what the hell is going on? Also the pseudo-profundity: “There is a difference between hearing and listening.” Because it is an African-American writing this poem, we must impute jazziness to it—its saving grace, its code of honor, its point of entry.

Shield your eyes from the relentless brilliance of Anis Shivani HERE

Hard Cell

Free verse was captured,
confined to a cell
by readers unraptured
in modernist hell.

And there he did languish
while chained to the wall
and desperate in anguish
gave forth a last call:

“Listen and read me—
my muse is the best!
Applaud and then feed me,
your starving guest !

Don’t fall for that beat…
Please ignore their old line.
I’m here. I’m effete.
I’m a modern divine…

I like it in prison
No, really — I’m free!”
(But his lock was awaiting
Your Readership’s key.

For the moderns all lie,
as your readership knows;
Modern poets don’t die—
they just decompose.)

 

 

logo-napowrimo