Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You're not the boss of me,

I say. Defining poetry
Is a task best left to those who Do,
Not some Society.


Elizabeth said...

Wow. I love the idea that anyone can plant a flag and decide what is or isn't poetry. There must be a group like this composed of all those people at art museums who say "My 5 year old could draw better than this."

My society is going to be called "Charlotte and Wilbur's Barnyard Broads." We will not recognize any allegories or books in free verse as children's literature, and in our free time we will circulate a petition to ban the works of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett on Broadway.

J Larios said...

How silly! It sounds like a Monty Python skit, doesn't it? Michael Palin as a representative of the Queen's English Society, goosestepping around & making pronouncements about meter and rhyme & bonking people over the head? "Naughty, naughty!"

I especially laughed at the idea of "word-things" that give someone "a special pleasure" - that sounds like the introduction to George Carlin's Filthy Words act (or Martin Mull's classic, Talk Dirty to Me.)

That said, I prefer the Donne poem to the one by Michael Schmidt. But that's personal taste, not a definition. I like what Richard Wilbur said about form: "I have never aimed at a monumental quality in my poems, and I don't much like it in the poems of others. It pleases me always to endanger whatever form I'm working in. I've written very few sonnets, but when I work in the sonnet, I try to threaten the form, expressively, in the way that my hero John Milton always did. Milton's sonnets freely overrun the tidy divisions of the sonnet form for expressive purposes, and therefore if his poems are 'perfect,' they're not perfect in the sense of being neat. They're perfect in the sense of treating the form in such a way as at all times to put it at the service of the meaning."

janeyolen said...

Dear Mr. Lamb,

You should take care
When making free
With edicts on
True poetry.

For some who write
With perfect rhyme
Can still commit
Poetic crime.


Elaine Magliaro said...


I'd better check to see that all my "word-things" meet this group's criteria for what poetry is. Just because some "word-things" have rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, etc., doesn't necessarily guarantee they will be fine poetry. I'm sure that there would be a lot of tripe that might meet the "poetic" criteria.