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

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Earl the Squirrel's Rule #181
     What is the difference between "pandering to" and "pleasing" an audience?

     Many are dismissive of popular writers like Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski because they catered to young, disaffected politicos [many of whom have since grown into old, disaffected politicos].  Their writing has no appeal to other demographics or constituencies.  It excited the base and bored everyone else.  That said, to criticize poets because they serve their audience is nothing more than criticizing the audience itself.  Of course Ferlinghtetti's writing was jejune;  look at who he was writing for!  Of course Bukowski wrote long-winded misogynistic prose;  look at who he was writing for!

     The fact that a jumper can clear a one-foot hurdle doesn't prove they can't overcome a six-foot bar.  It is ridiculous to insult these authors because they succeeded exclusively with audiences who had little or no experience with verse.  Hey, wouldn't it be ironic if the critique were coming from the very authorities who failed to educate that demographic in the first place?

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #5
     Edgar Guest and these carnival barker wannabes weren't awful authors because of who liked or disliked their output.

     They were bad writers because they wrote badly.  Pure and simple.

     They were bad as poets because their fans don't care to memorize, quote or perform what they wrote.  They were bad because their fans could see the same thing at nightly open mics, then and now.  They were bad because their fans subsequently encountered the same things being said much more eloquently and succinctly by others.  They were bad because, in an hour or less, anyone could be taught to do better...if only their products were given similar exposure.  This, incidentally, is why we don't have such iconic messes in the Internet Age.  If someone were to show us such a hack today sixty seconds of web searching would allow us to counter with a dozen examples who are better aren't quite as terrible.

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #85
     On another front, an academic poet was recently lambasted on Facebook because her verse was "very precisely calibrated for her intended market."


     When did poetry pleasing its market--in this case a sophisticated one--become a bad thing? 

     I'll bet it happened at about the same time poetry lost its market. 

     The difference between "pandering to" and "pleasing" is jealousy.  In my experience, only failed poets use the previous expression.  If we had to point to one reason why poetry is dead this contempt for audiences would be it.

Coming Soon"Love is a Weakness", Chapter 1

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Earl the Squirrel's Rule #27
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Earl Gray, Esquirrel

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