- Never say anything in a poem that you wouldn't say in a bar.
- If you can't be profound be vague.
- There's a difference between poetry and hebephrenia.
- 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.)
- Never discuss bad poetry with anyone who hasn't read Sh*r*n Mc*lr*y.
- Poetry lies between synonyms.
- The difference between self-expression and communication is poetry.
- If you can't spell a word don't use it.
- The fact that it's bad writing doesn't make it good poetry.
- Don't emote. Evoke.
- Linebreaks don't make poetry any more than stuttering does.
- Try to be understood too quickly.
- If it doesn't sound like poetry to a Lower Slobovian it probably isn't.
- Every modern poem must contain at least one em dash abuse.
- Audiences don't come to use their imaginations. They come to use yours.
- To each their own taste, even those with none.
- Don't use clichés. Create them.
- The Egoless Motto:
"If you don't think your poetry is competing against the works of others you're probably right."
- Don't worry about your voice until someone is listening.
- Writing is to poetry as paper is to stone.
- Poetry isn't about the writer or the reader. It's about everything in between.
- You aren't a poet until the janitor says you are.
- 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.
- The Elizabeth Alexander Rule:
Poetry's only selling point is that it is cheaper than tear gas.
- The fact that it's boring doesn't mean it's poetry.
- We aren't stoned enough for this.
(#26 is often called "The Big Bong Theory".)
- The Pistols at Dawn Rule:
Never compare a poet's work to Ferlinghetti's unless you're a better shot than target.
- The Joan Houlihan Rule:
Any poetry reading longer than 20 minutes is a hostage situation.
- The merit of your words should exceed the considerable value of silence.
- Poetry cannot be paraphrased.
- If you cannot scan verse you cannot imagine free verse.
- Poetry is a competition with judges and coaches but no performers or fans.
- Poetry needs to get over itself.
- Tripe details the unspeakably obvious.
Poetry details the unspeakable obvious.
- People don't read poetry for the same reason you don't read film scripts.
- Memory is the difference between storing and misplacing.
Intelligence is the difference between planting and burying.
- Free versers don't count.
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #29|
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.