Monday, September 27, 2010

Anti-academic rants, Anti-Camp rants, Technique vs. Content and blah blah blah



As of late I've been reading and hearing a lot of disquiet and out and out anger towards specific groups of poetics, or specific "camps"…for example "Academic poetry lacks soul." Another complaint "experimental poetry exists for the sake of the experiment and not the poetry."

The only thing I can come up with is a big SO what? We have wars. We have poverty. We have children starving. How does poetry deal with these issues? Critical discussions are beginning to drive me insane. Two days ago, down the road, a man shot his wife and then shot himself leaving behind two children. Would a soulful poem have saved the lives of these two people? No.

"Intelligence is not a gift it is a cracker jack prize

a wash off tattoo, or likely just the nuts that settle

to the bottom during shipping."

Whilst poets sit around discussing various types of camps and which camp is better than the other camp the whole world goes to hell. What's the point? There is none.

What makes poetry "vital" is its living aspect. Yes, a poem lives. Or it does not. If a poem is not alive it is not worth the paper or pixel wasted on it. Bitching about what is or is not happening in the Po Biz is wasted effort. And here, I've subscribed to that "camp" the camp of eternal bitching… and here I must shut myself up. A poem lives or it dies and the world goes on without noticing. And yet the one poem when it connects to the one reader can save a life.

It has mine. More than once.
Hopefully, in turn, I can use that which poetry has given me to continue to survive in this place, simplistically speaking, not only to survive but to find joy with the hope of blessing others in some small way. Words and poetry bring me joy, a comfort I try to share when I can.
AND...that's really all any human can hope for.

That's enough.

Here I offer a poem which you may decide to live through, with, or not at all.

Wild Geese


You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver


From: Demothenes' Legacy (A book everyone should read.)
Jonathan Munroe


Scattered among passages, choice remains. Exposed to
good measures, they disallowed a higher meaning--"the
better to lie among the stars." That was a choice the
choosing made. What a difference a sound makes. A pass-
ing phrase. In stages the crew disassembled the scaffolding.
Hung from the rafters, the authorities caved.


Inside this tent you'll see again. Wonder of wonders.
Miracles. Some ghosts survive, and thriving, save. Salvation
slaves our very host. A parasitic crowd draws near, resur-
recting old foliage. Blank slates soon follow, whispering
sweet nothings. Diffuse directions storm intentions.
Muttering masters cancel threads.


  1. From Katherine Hastings...


    I think good poets can be found in any one of them. Lousy ones, too."

  2. and meanwhile the pulley hangs from the rope in my sister's barn . . .

    love this post, melanie.