|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #20|
What is poetry? More to the point, why do so many try to write it?
Because it seems to form one gigantic paradox, this is the easiest of the twelve issues to get ass-backwards.
Suppose you want to send a vital, private message to some friends. You dictate it to a courier, who writes it down. Fearing detection along the way, she burns the note but is successful in delivering the gist of your missive. Your information saves the day.
Are you happy?
If entirely so, you may be the hero of the hour, a dear friend and perhaps even a great writer but you aren't a poet and you never will be as long as you have to ask:
Answer: Because you didn't cringe when you read about the burning and subsequent paraphrasing of your words. Because poetry is verbatim, its producers are sticklers about exact wording. They might say something like: "We are delighted that everything worked out well..." while thinking to themselves "...but we'd have been happier still had the message arrived intact."
Poets are funny that way.
Many students come to poetry in order to draw attention to themselves or their issues. Verse appears to be the perfect vehicle since, not only can people receive the info, they might even memorize it for future reference. Thus, poetry makes sense both theoretically and historically.
The problem is that it makes no sense in practice or at present. First, as an art form poetry is better suited to the timeless rather than the timely. Second, there is no audience for poetry; one has to be earned each and every generation, not just by you but by poets in general. That hasn't happened.
Insofar as selecting poetry as the medium for your message is concerned, the only thing worse than your choice is your timing.
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part I
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part II
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part III
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part IV
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part V
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part VI
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part VII
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part VIII
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part IX
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part X
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part XI
- 12 Things Poets Get Backwards - Part XII
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Earl Gray, Esquirrel