February 10, 2010

Dog Biscuits

Teaching academics to write poems is like teaching dogs to bake cookies. The dogs, no matter what you do, are going to make dog biscuits. Academics are going to write academic poems. Incredibly, academic poets will complain that only educated, enlightened, pinks read their work, and so bemoan the death of Culture. I’ll tell it to you straight: folks don’t want to eat dog biscuits.

I’d advocate a dumbing down of poetry. By dumb I mean, of course, purposeful, clear, relevant, and pretty writing. A poem (to scramble the analogy further) cannot behave like a tied up dog, snarling at pedestrians, snapping at hands, and expect to be liked. The reader doesn’t owe anybody anything, no more than a stranger has to indulge your life story at an airport bar.

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