Dear Parade Magazine:
Poetry is stupid, and I don’t think my tax dollars should go towards paying a stupid Poet Laureate to write stupid poems that nobody even reads anyway. Because they are stupid.
A Poetry Hater
In their response, the Parade Magazine editors noted that a) tax dollars don’t pay for the Poet Laureate, and b) the Poet Laureate makes $35,000. If everybody in the tiny hamlet I grew up in chipped in $3.50, they could pay the Poet Laureate’s salary. Translation: your tax dollars are safe.
But, this brings up a bigger issue, some people really don’t like poetry. Sometimes, I can’t blame them. There’s a lot of bad poetry out there, and it’s easy to hate. I’ve written some, you’ve written some. It’s a fact. Every would-be writer has, at some point, jotted down their inner most thoughts in A-B-B-A rhyme scheme. (Here, near, dear? Been there. Trust, must, lust? Puh-leeze. That’s the title of my soon to be released autobiography, subtitle: I Was a Teenaged Poet.). It’s called being a beginner. It’s called figuring it out. It’s the tiny steps that lead to the long journey. Blah. Blah. Blah. At some point, if you stick with it long enough, you eventually find out what combination of words line up perfectly to create your voice. But it’s not easy, and the results aren’t always pretty. And a lot of people have to slog through a lot of things called poetry that are really just those tiny steps.
I suppose, too, that some of those poetry haters have encountered a poem or two that didn’t particularly speak to them or their experiences. I can understand that. This one time, I heard a Mötley Crüe song. It didn’t speak to me. And it might have even been mocking my experiences, I can’t be sure. I blacked out after the third guitar solo. But I steadfastly refused to let that sour me on music. Even if a strong case could have been made.
I guess that for some of those people, it’s easier to say “all poetry is bad.” Because everyone knows you only have to touch the stove once to know it’s hot. And I guess that bit of homespun wisdom would be apt if we were talking about people who hate getting burned by hot stoves, but we’re talking about people who hate words. Words! And I won’t stand for it. Here’s the deal, I invite you to hate bad poetry, whatever “bad” means to you. But, I do not invite you to hate all poetry. Because poetry is awesome. One day, poetry hater, you will find a poem that perfectly describes that previously indescribable feeling you had that time in 1982, when you were convinced, convinced! that no one in the world had ever felt that way before or since. I guarantee you, somebody has written about. And won’t you feel silly then? Also, Public Service Announcement: Don’t touch a hot stove.
Poetry is so very awesome it gets its own month. How will you be celebrating Poetry Month? Maybe I’ll celebrate by cracking open some of my notebooks circa 1994, and oh how I’ll laugh. Because, man, that stuff is bad.