Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poets, do you promote poetry-not-your-own?

Blogger Nic Sebastian writes: "Poets, do you promote poetry-not-your-own?

"Amy King asked this question on Twitter. She has just finished a marathon tweeting session on behalf of the Academy of American Poets, in which she spent many hours asking questions, promoting poets, poetry, poetry presses and poetry initiatives."

Do I promote poetry other than my own? Were I a human I would answer "yes" without thought or hesitation. After all, in addition to this blog I write critique, reviews and articles ranging from the anecdotal to the technical. I am the only one at our local open mic who has ever performed a contemporary poem authored by someone else. True, I've never blurbed but for certain poems, collections and poets I've been an unabashed cheerleader in everything other than uniform.

For better or worse, though, I'm a squirrel. Hungry hawks hovering overhead have taught us Grays to be circumspect. Let's look twice before we cross this street. Do I promote poetry other than my own? Note, as Nic did, that we aren't talking about specific poets, poems, presses or initiatives. We're talking about poetry in toto. Thus, the "not-your-own" that is central to Nic's discussion is more or less redundant in ours.

So, do I promote poetry?

Doesn't the word "promote" suggest that you are trying to expand beyond current participant levels? Doesn't "promote" suggest bringing new blood into the arena? Doesn't "promote" imply more than energizing the troops and preaching to the converted? If Wallmart has a promotion shouldn't it be aimed at more than their staff and existing customers? How about an enterprise that doesn't have customers yet? Would it make any sense if their promotions were targeted strictly at their employees?

So, do I promote poetry?

Do I really need to specify poetry consumption? With the current rate of overproduction?

So, do I promote poetry?

No. I may try but I'm just a squirrel chirping into the blathersphere.

Does anyone promote poetry these days?

Not effectively. Not in North America, at least. As with any guild, the League of Canadian Poets does a fairly good job of promoting poets to those with a modicum of interest. If anyone needs a demonstration of the difference between highlighting poets and poetry they need only watch the "Heart of a Poet" series. Blurber host Andrea Thompson does her best introducing the poets but, with a few exceptions, the poetry samples on display are bad.

How bad? Groundhog Day bad: if the public were watching we could expect six more decades of oblivion. As for attention to potential readers, never has disregard been so palpable.

Despite Christian Wiman's good intentions, the Poetry Foundation's focus is on a tiny fringe element of contemporary poetry. Both Wiman and the organization bear the scars of a losing battle against Content Regents shilling anti-aestheticism. The $200,000,000 Ruth Lilly grant insulates them against the public's concerns. The Poetry Foundation's one outreach is a remarkable idea: Poetry Out Loud, a contest to make videos of classic poem recitations. Unfortunately, their silent war with the pre-existing online community prevented them from enlisting aid, causing that initiative to suffer as the interactive Harriet blog did.

In many ways, the Academy of American Poets is the mirror image of the Poetry Foundation. With their learning resources and workshop, Poets.org is not held hostage to Content Regents. Unfortunately, their Poem-A-Day intiative suffers from inflexibility. Instead of a hodge-podge that pleases no one they could consider individual genres (e.g. Check one or more of: metrical, non-metrical, traditional, modern, contemporary, literary, popular, romance, drama, comedy, et cetera). If nothing else, the statistics might prove interesting.

To my knowledge, not one of these organizations polls the public for its opinion on defining issues. All are more interested in dictating taste than catering to it. Do we really need a degree in marketing strategy to spot the flaw here? Is it any wonder that there is no public outrage when government funding for the arts in general and poetry in particular is cut?

"Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people."

- Adrian Mitchell

Coming Soon: Time for some good news

Want to be Earl Gray for a Day? Email your tongue-in-cheek rant to earlthesquirrelpoetry@gmail.com . Feel free to use simple HTML tags as necessary.

Friday, April 22, 2011

EtSLoP: Earl the Squirrel's Laws of Poetry

Please do not confuse this list with unofficial versions by Dennis Hammes or Peter John Ross.

Earl Gray's Rules Of Poetry from Earl Gray on Vimeo.

      The other videos are:  Part I, Part II and Part III.  Here is the complete text listing for #1 to 181:

Rule #1
Never say anything in a poem that you wouldn't say in a bar.
Rule #2
If you can't be profound be vague.
Rule #3
There's a difference between poetry and hebephrenia.
Rule #4
McNeilley Dictum #4:

Cut off the last line! This will make your poem better!
(If this doesn't work, keep cutting off the last line.)
Rule #5
Never discuss bad poetry with anyone who hasn't read Ferlinghetti.
Rule #6
Poetry lies between synonyms.
Rule #7
The difference between self-expression and communication is poetry.
Rule #8
If you can't spell a word don't use it.
Rule #9
The fact that it's bad writing doesn't make it good poetry.
Rule #10
Don't emote. Evoke.
Rule #11
Linebreaks don't make poetry any more than stuttering does.
Rule #12
Try to be understood too quickly.
Rule #13
If it doesn't sound like poetry to a Lower Slobovian it probably isn't.
Rule #14
Every modern poem must contain at least one em dash abuse.
Rule #15
Audiences don't come to use their imaginations. They come to use yours.
Rule #16
To each their own taste, even those with none.
Rule #17
Don't use clichés. Create them.
Rule #18
The Egoless Motto:

"If you don't think your poetry is competing against the works of others you're probably right."
Rule #19
Don't worry about your voice until someone is listening.
Rule #20
Writing is to poetry as paper is to stone.
Rule #21
Poetry isn't about the writer or the reader. It's about everything in between.
Rule #22
You aren't a poet until the janitor says you are.
Rule #23
The Gerard Ian Lewis Rule:

Triteness is a minor flaw, easily remedied (should nothing else occur to you)
by adding a mysterious reference to a goat in the last line.
Rule #24
The Elizabeth Alexander Rule:

Poetry's only selling point is that it is cheaper than tear gas.
Rule #25
The fact that it's boring doesn't mean it's poetry.
Rule #26
We aren't stoned enough for this.
Rule #27
The Pistols at Dawn Rule:

Never compare a poet's work to Ferlinghetti's unless you're a better shot than target.
Rule #28
The Joan Houlihan Rule:

Any poetry reading longer than 20 minutes is a hostage situation.
Rule #29
The merit of your words should exceed the considerable value of silence.
Rule #30
Poetry cannot be paraphrased.
Rule #31
If you cannot scan verse you cannot imagine free verse.
Rule #32
Poetry is a competition with judges and coaches but no performers or fans.
Rule #33
Poetry needs to get over itself.
Rule #34
Tripe details the unspeakably obvious.
Poetry details the unspeakable obvious.
Rule #35
People don't read poetry for the same reason you don't read film scripts.
Rule #36
Memory is the difference between storing and misplacing.
Intelligence is the difference between planting and burying.
Rule #37
Free versers don't count.
Rule #38
There is always a deadline.
Rule #39
The Rule of Two and Three:

Two is a contrast.
Three is a trend.
Rule #40
Bad poetry haunts the author.
Good poetry haunts the reader.
Rule #41
Journalism is about what you say.
Poetry is about how you say it.
Diplomacy is about how you avoid saying it.
Rule #42
Prose is message. Poetry is words.
Rule #43
All those who distinguish between art and audience understand neither.
Rule #44
"I want your honest opinion" is never entirely true.
Rule #45
Poetry is cheaper and safer than other general anaesthetics.
Rule #46
If you ain't getting better you're getting worse.
Rule #47
The funny thing about arrogance is where you find it.
Rule #48
Writers shouldn't write better than readers can read.
Rule #49
It's not too clever to appear so.
Rule #50
The 50-50 Rule: Fewer than 1 in 50 can recite a poem written in the last 50 years.
Rule #51
Denial is not a cure.
Rule #52
Poetry used to have fans.
Now it has constituencies.
Rule #53
Defining poetry by content is like trying to grab a drowning donkey by its bubbles.
Rule #54
A picture contains a thousand words.
A poem contains a thousand pictures.
Rule #55
Prosodists aren't shamans or mystics.
They are coroners and accountants.
Rule #56
Fewer people know the fundamentals of poetry than the rudiments of Klingon.
Rule #57
"It's more fun if you take it seriously."
(Pearl's Paradox)
Rule #58
No meritocracy ever survived a vote.
Rule #59
Practice does not make perfect.
Practice makes permanent.
Rule #60
We hold these truths to be, like, duh.
Rule #61
Your ear is brighter than your brain.
Rule #62
Poetry bears repeating.
Rule #63
Poetry used to be a challenge to write and easy to read.
Now it's the opposite.
Rule #64
As goes contemporary, so goes classical.
Rule #65
Imagine how dull the world would be if you or I were the most interesting thing in it.
Rule #66
Bad actors pause for breath.
Good actors pause for thought.
Rule #67
"Forgettable poetry" is an oxymoron.
Rule #68
Few who teach Shakespeare have learned anything from him.
Rule #69
Poetry is an act of consumption, not production.
Rule #70
There has never been a better time to be a bad poet,
never a worse time to be a good one.
Rule #71
Poetry is about poems, not poets.
Rule #72
Introducing your work as "poetry" is like a hunter firing off a warning shot.
Rule #73
Those who believe in criticism without criticism
usually believe in poetry without poetry.
Rule #74
Would you buy a car from someone whose sales pitch
amounted to an argument that the thing in front of you is, in fact, a car?
Rule #75
Science is where superstitions go to die.
Rule #76
Good poetry is memorable.
Great poetry is unforgettable.
Rule #77
If you have to ask its meaning
a poem has already failed.
Rule #78
If you have to tell me it's a poem
it isn't.
Rule #79
Novice poets don't have a style.
Experienced poets don't want one.
Rule #80
You will learn more from the critique that you give
than the critique you receive.
Rule #81
Inspiration has a date of expiration.
Rule #82
What trips off the tongue lands in our memory.
Rule #83
One who compromises on wit becomes a half.
Rule #84
Rehearse until it seems unrehearsed.
Rule #85
Today, the poet with five readers can envy
the exclusivity of the one with three.
Rule #86
Bad poets may argue that words have no meaning.
Theirs certainly don't.
Rule #87
People reread stories because they forgot the words.
People reread poetry because they remember them.
Rule #88
If no one is in for a penny
then no one is in for a pound.
Rule #89
If you can't be famous
be infamous.
Rule #90
Education empowers creativity.
Rule #91
We can sell crap to a lazy ignoramus.
We can't sell crap by a lazy ignoramus.
Rule #92
What can mean anything means nothing.
Rule #93
Try not to blur the distinction between aesthetics and anaesthetics.
Rule #94
Chris Richardson's American Ido effect:
"Being bad includes not knowing you're bad."
Rule #95
"Now that phone booths are gone will poets stop trying to fill them?"
Rule #96
"Avant garde" is beyond pretentious.
It is pretension itself.
Rule #97
Don't ask what it means.
Ask if and why it will be remembered.
Rule #98
Authorial intent is to poetry what creationism is to science.
Rule #99
The Bachmann Question:
"How can we tell where the disingenuity ends and the stupidity begins?"
Rule #100
We can work with the clueless.
We can't work with the clueproof.
(Be teachable.)
Rule #101
Those who can't do...preach.
Rule #102
What is fashionable can never be original.
Rule #103
Poets not jealous of Maz have the most reason to be.
Rule #104
Ignorance isn't the sin that laziness is.
Rule #105
On Originality:
The question isn't: "Have I seen this before?"
The question is: "Do I want to see this again?"
Rule #106
Shakespeare's Law:
"If you don't know how poetry is performed
you don't know how it is written."
Rule #107
There are no rules,
only tools and fools.
Rule #108
People avoid today's poetry for the same reason psychotherapists charge money. 
Rule #109
I'm a big fan of my work.
Sadly, others have better taste.
Rule #110
If poetry wants more fans
it will need more heir conditioning.
Rule #111
Do not confuse wilful ignorance and opinion.
Rule #112
Anyone can be awful but if you want to be shockingly so
you need to go first.
Rule #113
Did you know that poetry is a spectator sport?
Rule #114
Nobody Reads Poetry
Rule #115
There is no more certain proof that poetry is dead
than the need to deny it.
Rule #116
While alive, poetry was art.
Now it is religion.
Rule #117
People don't call what they read "prose"
and they don't read what we call "poetry".
Rule #118
History is politics.
Rule #119
[When writing...] Show, don't tell.
[When performing...] Tell, don't show.
Rule #120
Write for audiences, not readers.
Rule #121
Common sense is not an open-book test.
Rule #122
Poetry isn't what you write.
It's what others remember hearing.
Rule #123
Trying to sell poetry today is like trying
to sell scripts in a civilization without theaters.

(Pssst! You have to build the theaters first.)
Rule #124
What are you afraid of learning?
Rule #125
Vicious cycle warning!
Learning breeds curiosity.
And vice versa.
Rule #126
Poetry is an effect,
not a cause,
not an affect.
Rule #127
A poem is rarely about its topic.
Rule #128
Honesty is just a lack of imagination.
Rule #129
Lies tell us twice as much as the truth.
Rule #130
The wise learn more from fiction
than fools from fact.
Rule #131
Poetry isn't about saying something original.
It's about saying something originally.
Rule #132
You don't have to be clever,
just slightly less stupid than everyone else.
Rule #133
Nothing good ever followed the words "Hold my beer and watch this!"
Rule #134
News is what doesn't happen.
Rule #135
If everything is art then nothing is art.
Rule #136
How to read poetry:
Rule #1:
(Instead, listen to it.)
Rule #137
"Poetry readings" is an oxymoron.
Rule #138
The one lesson that can be learned only by reading poetry
is that we should be listening to poetry.
Rule #139
Mixing politics and art yields neither.
Rule #140
Too much clarity has the same effect on pseudointellectuals
as too much sunlight has on vampires.
Rule #141
Poetry is its own ambassador.
Rule #142
Tell me the fable, not the moral.
Rule #143
Common sense isn't just a myth.
It's an oxymoron.
Rule #144
Truth is the most effective lie.
Rule #145
The story is the story.
Rule #146
The teller is the story.
Rule #147
You can't invent what you can't imagine.
Rule #148
Quality is not a genre.
Rule #149a
When arts die they turn into hobbies.
- Michael Lind
Rule #149b
When arts die they turn into lobbies.
- Pearl Gray
Rule #150
"Poetry is the original digital art; its audience tends to be in the digits."
- Michael Lind
Rule #151
Poetry ≠ Email From Rehab
Rule #152
Why do you think teleprompters were invented?
Rule #153
Prose is timely.
Poetry is timeless.
Rule #154
From childhood, humans are conditioned to fall asleep when you read to them.
Rule #155
It isn't just prose
you agree with.
Rule #156
Never accuse anyone of being a poet. They might know a lawyer.
Rule #157
There is no such thing as a little candor.
Rule #158
The Tsendoku Law:
The number of poetry publications read is lower than the number sold.
Rule #159
"Maybe it was a slow news day.
Poetry has a lot of those."
Rule #160
You can't sell books shorter than 25 words.
Rule #161
"All a real editor needs is clean copy, dirty graphics,
a nearby printing press and a corrupt janitor."
Rule #162
Satire should be funny,
not just silly.
Rule #163
Poetry isn't homework.
Rule #164
"To be useful in classrooms poetry must
be accessible without being accessible."
Rule #165
Your greatest ability is your available.
Rule #166
If the audience is not your first concern
then you will be their last.
Rule #167
Whether or not critique is constructive
depends on how the author uses it,
not on the manner in which it's phrased."
- John Boddie (on Gazebo)
Rule #168
Postmodernism is incoherent solipsism.
Rule #169
Poetry can be about anything.
Poetry is about everything.
Rule #170
Better is different enough.
Rule #171
The only thought more frightening than poetry being dead
is the notion that this is poetry being alive.
Rule #172
Most poetry isn't.
Rule #173
Get better.
Not bitter.
Rule #174
Good causes.
Bad verses.
Rule #175
Poetry's status quo:
Those who perform cannot write;
those who write cannot perform;
those who learn cannot teach;
and, those who teach cannot learn.
Rule #176
Piracy is advertising.
Rule #177
Poetry is the mathematics of language.
Rule #178
If you can tell it's poetry
it's not.
- Pearl's Paradox #2
Rule #179
The lack of an aesthetic is, itself, an aesthetic.
- Pearl's Paradox #3
Rule #180
People who finish every project
don't conceive many.
Rule #181
Shakespeare's Question:
WTF do you think I was doing?"
Rule #182
"Poetry is a well-planned accident."
- Pearl's Paradox #4

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #0

Click here for the pictorial slide show version of Earl Gray's Rules of poetry.

     These rules have been provided here as a public service with apologies for stating the obvious.

     No need to thank me.


Earl Gray, Esquirrel

Monday, April 18, 2011

Who Killed Poetry?

This mystery survived for almost a century after the crime. Forensics determined that the fatal blow was struck in the 1920s, the patient lingering for a while afterwards. Suspects and speculations were legion. My favorite crackpot theory is that bridge was to blame. You know, the card game. It's not quite as outlandish as you may think. The timing is right: bridge was invented in the late 1920s. The demographics are right: bridge supplanted poetry as a social medium for young sophisticates before the 1970s and is still the favored diversion of retirees. Perhaps most importantly, bridge became the venue for celebrities including, among many others, John Wayne and Omar Sharif 30-40 years ago, Bill Gates and Alan Alda today. By contrast, poets didn't tend to be as photogenic or refined. In the 1980s I suppose you could, with some effort, dress up Charles Bukowski and Alan Ginsberg but you certainly couldn't take them anywhere.

The prime suspect had always been Modernism in general, non-metrical poetry in particular. This theory fails for a simple reason: the suspect wasn't within a continent of the crime scene. Indeed, the two are not even in the same dimension. Before giving up entirely, trade magazines and newspapers published almost exclusively popular verse. Free verse and prose poetry are and were largely limited to literary magazines. Poetry's death scene was far more public than that. Thus, when we say "poetry is dead" we really mean "commercial poetry is dead" or, if you prefer, "'popular poetry' is an oxymoron". Academic poetry is doing just fine, thanks to the largesse of taxpayers and, occasionally, patrons.

Question: If John Q. Jones pumps a dozen bullets into someone and, much later, an attending doctor removes life support, who killed the victim?

Today, we will finally unmask the gunman, whose identity will surprise many. We will reveal his motive as being, essentially, what we now call "identity theft". We begin, though, by unveiling the physician who put the patient out of its misery by removing the lifeline.

Ah, the lifeline. That was the clue. There are so few people who were alive when poetry mattered that our CSI team was forced to rely on historical accounts. Our investigation indicates that poetry's lifeline--its lifeblood--was the free and open exchange of verse among those who loved it. This knowledge led to us to the physician.

The doctor was born in Berne, Switzerland, in 1886, and graduated on July 1, 1909. Starting on January 1st, 1923, as a precaution against possible pandemics, this physician initiated a worldwide quarantine, preventing the free proliferation of poetry. This isolation, which was intended to protect poetry, cut it off from its life source. Worse yet, because poetry could not breed in captivity, it perished without issue.

Discovering the role of Copyright Law didn't bring us much closer to the shooter, though. Who and where was the mysterious Mr. John Q. Jones?

"Follow the money."

Who profited from this unspeakable crime?

Our historical research proved that before WWI people could recite dozens of recent poems but could sing along to only a few contemporary songs. Why? Convenience. Poems appearing in magazines and newspapers might be heard in bars or parlors later that same day. Songs required either a touring band or the purchase of sheet music and considerable practice. One rarely heard the same song more than once a week.

Radio reversed this, starting in the early 1920s. With the drop of a needle listeners from L.A. to New York could hear the same song. If a hit, they'd hear it again and again. Immediately, the poetry/songs ratio reversed. Today, the average individual can recite the words to thousands of contemporary songs but nary a single contemporary poem.

Indeed, the complete disappearance of poetry has given rise to conspiracy theories, speculating that poetry staged its own death, had a makeover and is living on in lyrics.

Songwriters who have profited from poetry's demise or metamorphosis don't deny this.

Do you, Mr. Jones?

Coming Soon: Time for some good news

Friday, April 15, 2011

First, the really bad news

Why is it important to revitalize the public's interest in poetry?

Pick a number between 1613 and 1915. Don't argue. Just humor me.

That number represents a year between Shakespeare's retirement and T.S. Eliot's debut. Now look at every poetry anthology published in the last fifty years. How many poems from the year you chose are being preserved in reprint? Or on required reading lists? Fewer than a half dozen, I'll wager, and probably closer to one or two. Now survey every anglophone on the planet, asking each of them how many of these poems they can quote. How many of the poems from that year have been preserved in our collective memory? One, maybe two. Probably none.

Looking forward, this number--zero, one or two--represents how many poems from 2011 rate to survive until 2111.

Pretty bleak, no? As the song says, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Factor in the rampant and growing generational narcissism that ignores history entirely. Fewer than 50% of high school graduates can name the major combatants in WWII. If they know so little about a world-wide conflagration from 70 years ago, what chance is there that they will know or care about a poem written in centuries past?

Can the news get any worse? Well, actually, it can and does.

We need to consider that, before WWI, people cared about poetry. They memorized scores of poems as they appeared in magazines and newspapers. They performed them in parlors and at parties, perhaps hoping to catch the eye of a prospective romantic partner. This popularity gave poems and poets their first push into posterity. No, it didn't work with Thomas Tusser (who?) and it didn't happen with E.A. Poe or Emily Dickinson but, for the most part, contemporary champions helped a poet's chances of immortality.

Today, most people can't recite a single line of serious poetry written in the last half century.

Thus, there is virtually no chance that any poem written this year will be considered significant in 2111 or beyond. In short, there is no such thing as posterity anymore. The most frustrating thing is that quality isn't the issue. Does it really matter how pretty that tree falling in the forest is?

Think of how depressing it is for a poetry editor to know that nothing published today will stand the test of time. As for a contemporary audience, if Giles Coren is correct--and I suspect he is--even poets don't read the editor's offerings. Repopularizing poetry is important, if only to talk editors down from the ledge.

As was pointed out in The Guardian's article, "What's wrong with popularising poetry?", some academic types don't want poetry to be popularized. You've seen these ostriches rolling their eyes and making droll, dismissive jokes whenever anyone mentions the truth about poetry's irrelevance.

Imagine the irony if these were the same folks who complain about English departments being downsized!

Next: Who Killed Poetry?
Coming Soon: Time for some good news

Want to be Earl Gray for a Day? Email your tongue-in-cheek rant to p.gardener123@gmail.com . Feel free to use simple HTML tags as necessary.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Regents, Freaks & Ghosts

  • The Content Regent

    A Content King or Content Queen is one who believes in substance over form. Typically, a Content Regent will pay lip service to technique but, in truth, they believe that the value and definition of writing lies in its profoundly intellectual, emotional or humorous nature. Examples of the latter extend from the bawdy doggerel we'd encounter in men's magazines to shaggy-dog tales with linebreaks. "Emotionally profound" can amount to the overwrought fare found in high school yearbooks or jingoistic anthems. Rounding out the triumvirate are the artless word puzzles and philosophy lectures with linebreaks found in literary magazines. In short, we have the silly, the sentimental and the pseudointellectual.

    Archetypes: Billy Collins, Maya Angelou & Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  • The Technique Freak

    If you know that "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks is a bacchic monometer curgina you may be a form-over-content Technique Freak. This is a rare but, strangely, unprotected species. The natural habitat of these odd birds is the online workshop, where discussing subject matter is considered inappropriate. Their mating call scans into accentual, accentual-syllabic and quantitative meter. Content Regents form their diet.

    Archetypes: Algernon Swinburne & Ezra Pound.

  • The GoStWeTo

    "...it's like that first guitar I played:
    at the center is a hole,
    at the center is a longing."

    - from "A Girl on the Road" by Ferron

    In the center stand those who look for a Good Story Well Told. Just as nearly everyone rates themself an above average driver, most poetry fans claim inclusion in this group. In fact, GoStWeTos are so rare as to be called "G[h]osts". This becomes evident when we read criticism. The Content Regent's reviews read like blurbs or annotation. The Technique Freak concentrates on whether or not the writing is poetry, good or bad. Only the GoStWeTo addresses whether or not it is poetry worth reading. The notion that some excellent verse will be of no interest to anyone [other than technicians] is lost on the TechFreak.

    "Ginger Caputo
    And Dorian Gray
    Oughtta stay out of pictures
    If they got nothin' to say"

    - from "Forbidden Jimmy" by John Prine

    Archetypes: Shakespeare & T.S. Eliot.

As poets or as bird-dogs, then, the Content Regent can't produce good poetry while the TechFreak can't produce interesting poetry.

Let us redivide the poetry pie along other, more basic biases: good versus bad and commercial versus aesthetic. Were we talking about the best contempory versers we could be comparing the ever-popular Leonard Cohen with the esteemed academic Seamus Heaney. In a recent Guardian article entitled
"What's wrong with popularising poetry? Well, the poets don't seem to like it . . ." we saw two promoters of bad poetry squaring off.

Garrison Keillor and August Kleinzahler

Leaving aside the fact that they look like two psych patients on bath night, we see an Edgar Guest being attacked by a typical Content King. The distinction between them is less than meets the eye: someone with poor taste versus someone with no taste.

What galls Content Regents is the fact that bad poetry trumps non-poetry.

Want to be Earl Gray for a Day? Email your tongue-in-cheek rant to earlthesquirrelpoetry@gmail.com . Feel free to use simple HTML tags as necessary.