Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Tirade against poetry - in rhyme

Writing Exercise Day 5: Write a 20-line poem about a memorable moment in your life.”

Okay I admit it. Yesterday's exercise went on forever. I took a deadpan joke and drew it out beyond all reasonable logic and humour. If you got the joke, it might have been funny. If you didn't, the joke's on me, and I look like an incredible ass for wasting your time by spelling out my “achievements” so obnoxiously.

Oh well. Sure was fun writing it though!

Fifth Blog-Writing “Do” : Respond to blog comments. This is an opportunity to connect directly with the people who are reading your work. Not all comments need a response, but be sure to respond to ones that do. And sometimes it’s worth just popping on and posting “Thanks for reading my blog.”

So today I have to write a poem. Poetry is something I despise. Almost every album that I own is instrumental, with no attempts to lyrically vocalise. If I DO listen to songs it's usually because I love a singer's voice, but generally speaking vocal-less music will always be my first and only choice.

Poetry. The last bastion of hormonal teens and over thirties men, who want you to think they're sensitive and deep and have great thoughts within their soulful heads. They're not. They're manipulating you, you see. They probably paint too, these deep and thoughtful poets, and that's just another way of manipulating you.

You know the kind of painting where they splurge colours on a wall, and call it “Anger!” or “Seasonal!” or “Sensuality Ball!”. Because they want you to know how sensitive they are; they have sensitivity exploding from them like jizz from a well-practiced porn-star. They're not deep and they're not soulful, they're just pitiful and shallow. And like another well-practiced porn star, we the audience just love to gape and swallow.

Okay, so poetry has a long and proud cultural history ( in the same way that racism has a long and proud cultural history ) and lots of people like it for some stupid reason I will never be able to fathom. I decided to Wikipedia “poetry”, because I despise it so much I need some kind of balanced viewpoint. And wikipedia is good for that, right?

So I'm scanning down the article and I note that in the classification of poetry, like any other pretentious art that most sane people only take in at a glance, before realising there are better things to do in life, and instead go off and do that, there have been many arguments surrounding the “art” of poetry and rhyme. Some guy called Aristotle decided that there were three classifications for poetry during his time – the epic ( such as The Odyssey, or Dante's infernally infinite Inferno ( an amazingly influential piece of work that very few people have actually sat down and taken to)), the comic ( like limericks and white rap ), and the tragic ( what I would define as : most modern poetry and white rap ). This then led to further refining from later aestheticians ( I know, right ? ) : lyric poetry, and dramatic poetry ( with comedy and tragedy therefore being subgenres – always the bridesmaid, never the bride).

See, poetry initially came about as an easy way of memorising a story so that it could be reported at a later date, you know, orally. People have always liked a good rhyme, and people from the past doubly so, if it helped them remember shit in prehistoric times. In fact, it was a lower art form designed specifically to be easy to regurgitate. We people are a simple set, and we need simple things about which to intellectually postulate. Now, of course you can argue that it is not the FORM that creates the art, but the utilisation of same. But I'll just keep comparing it to racism to help you understand that lazy claim. Racism comes from xenophobia. Xenophobia comes from the simple desire to protect against outsiders. This desire to protect can further be seen in parents protecting their children from unwanted neighbours. Ergo – racism and poetry come from the same base level of cultural simplicity. See? It's easy. And both are base level abominations.

So what sets poetry apart from other forms of littery, is it's employment of rhythm, metre, and abstract imagery. A poem of course doesn't have to rhyme, now that we can write that shit down and don't have to remember it any more. As long as it has a vaguely accepted metre, it still classifies as poetry. There are even one sentence poems out there ( they're called epigrams I believe ). That's not a

That's just a sentence.

So why do I struggle with the concept so much? I think it's down to the “aestheticians”, the pretentious twonks that would deem to raise the “art-form” above its rightful station, that of a bit of rhyme you can verbally relate and remember. Because it gives them something, ironically, to talk about and deconstruct, and artistically dismember. I can totally get behind the employment of lyrics in a song, because a song is supposed to be sung – ie, orally presented using melody. The best way to remember those lyrics is to give it rhyme schemes and a rhythm. Culturally, at it's heart, rap and it's offshoots are the closest to the true roots of poetry. Why use imagery, abstract descriptions or indeed similis? Sometimes words just need something to rhyme with, to carry the true message alongilly.

See, I'm a direct kind of person. So that makes me an average writer at best. I don't like to use abstractions when I can simply state my case and rest. I prefer to refer to something as a cloud, as opposed to a wispy sky pillow. Sure, wispy sky pillow is nice to say, and gives a lovely interpretation of what is essentially collected moisture in the air, but it doesn't change my basic perception of a cloud just because I deem to compare it to a pillow with loose strands of straw-like hair.

And that's why I'll never be one of the greats. I can't allude to something using assonance and alliteration. I'm just clearly not that clever.

I got into a little tete-a-tete argument a year or so ago about a blankly horrible American play I didn't even know, that I read for all the same. This play touched on several hot-potato issues – such as terrorism and somewhat incongruously, reality TV - without ever actually discussing them, the idea of course being to allow the audience to take over in the discussion rather than coach, couch, or cosset them. When I brought this up, brought up the fact that merely by alluding to several hot-potato issues was not to intellectually connect with them, I was told that the best plays did not have a third act; rather, the third act was played out by the audience, after the play itself was at an end. Now, call me old fashioned, but isn't that just lazy writing? By inviting them to finish it themselves, it doesn't treat the audience with respect or intelligence, in fact it treats the audience with great levels of contempt. It's not assuming an audience's intelligence, though an audience likes to presume it is, but lazily allowing them to do the actual work for the artist while he counts the ticket sales and thinks himself as smartly intellectual. That type of writing is undemanding as is the play itself, merely presenting a set of issues without ever attempting to truly delve, so the audience is tricked into believing it's intelligent, when in reality they're paying money to be treated with contempt.

What possible purpose does a writer have in writing a play, if the writer himself has nothing worthwhile to actually say? To state an opinion is a dangerous thing, especially in art. In less developed countries than our own, stating an opinion can lead to violence, death, and generations of hurt. However, in the Western World, generally speaking, it merely leads to less ticket sales or an audience's unkind public word. A kind of death itself, if every exit can be looked upon as an entrance somewhere else ( that was a quote by Tom Stoppard )

In my ever so humble opinion it's not enough merely to allude. And that is why I will never be successful in the field in which I choose ( to express myself ). Everyone has an opinion, they express it every day. And everyone would rather express that opinion than have an opinion shoved into their face. But if that opinion is expressed in such a way that makes it somehow seem ethereal, well that's poetry, is it not? Wouldn't you say? Yay, nay? No comment? Just unreal.

So poetry and I will never gel because I can't get my head around the fact that I have to spend time alluding to something I would rather just tell. And an audience takes against that, like a white bigot against a black - um - black

But I have to write a poem about a memorable moment in my past and so I'll bury my head in my hands while I await the kettle to boil, and then at last I'll start.

I have many memorable moments to select from. I'm old now you see. Sure, I'm only thirty eight, but as I reach past forty I probably won't be able to remember many of those memorable moments that have occurred to me, specifically, and so now's the time to capitalise. So what memorable moment should I immortalise?

I was in a car crash once. Damn thing tipped over on it's front into a ditch. I survived. Pointless postulating about it in poetry. Though people might be tricked into thinking that I'm sensitive if I did.

I could choose a happy moment, describe love's fleeting influence, I could use my rhyme satirically to put down those of great affluence, after all I was a cashier for a well known building society, but in this day and age that subject has long gone beyond parody.

I know!!!!

At syringe point I was once robbed, I gave the man my money and then I called the cops, but nothing truly memorable ever came of that, I couldn't even describe the man from underneath his cap, he got only coin from me and let me keep my wallet, asked me had I bus fare and seemed prepared to come back and pay for it. Unsure of what to tell him, I said I'd get a cab, but thanks all the same for offering you really are quite fab, under the circumstances I let him go for fear of his reprisal, even though he seemed quite genuine it was easier for my denial, for I had been a coward, by giving him my money instead of showing him my power, as a male and as an equal, that I was quite capable of beating him, but in any further stories that I told about this event I could explain that I had decked the cunt and that we had both fought like gladiatorally equal men, and in the end it was only coin he took so I let him off with a warning, gave him the money alongside a powerful verbal scorning, we separated as giants even though in reality I felt dwarfed, the story I tell of this epic event will make it seem like I created holy war ( like happens in other countries because of religion! )

Nah, that was only memorable at the time, no point writing a poem about that.

Fuck it, I'm not arsed.

I hate poetry. I'm never going to be a poet. Fuck it. I give up.

Tomorrow :

Twelve steps writing exercise Day 6: Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.”

Grand so.

Oh and ps :

    Twelve steps of addiction, step five : Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

I'm totally ready God, whenever you are. I think, in this instance, we shall refer to God as anyone in internet land who might have a comment they want to express on this blog or beyond. So I'm willing and waiting God. Willing, and waiting.

Thanks for reading my blog.



  1. Well well well not sure what that was about but maybe you need to open yourself to new ideas and new ways of understanding how we see the world around us, poetry may not be for you but don't thrash it because you don't understand it I don't understand ballet but can appreciate its athleticism and the power skill and years of training that people put in to it to reach the peak of performance and in essence poetry is a kind of ballet of the mind that is set in rhythm and metre and written down for people to enjoy, it really is as simple or as complex as you want it to be maybe we are trying a little too hard

    1. Hey Paul, many thanks for the comment - my first ever!

      Have another quick read of the piece again, Paul, and hopefully it'll help you understand the point of the article. A hard ask to be fair, given the length etc, so I'll try to summarise.

      I am currently undertaking a twelve step writing exercise and both documenting my experience and satirising my own old-dog inability to comply with them. I'm doing this, in your own words to "open myself up to new ideas and new ways of understanding" - in this instance of poetry - and to utilise the ideas to furnish me with an excuse to write.

      If you look at the piece again you'll see that there is a vein of irony throughout, as I apply the rules I supposedly despise to the piece itself, from rhyme and rhythm, to metaphor and alliteration.

      It is a discipline, yes not unlike ballet - though I would take exception to your idea that it has the same athletic grace or that it takes as long to master - but one which opens itself up by its very nature - again like ballet or any form of art - to criticism and deconstruction, something I am attempting to do with each exercise ( see my other posts ) so as to understand them. I open myself up to the very same criticism by creating this blog, and welcome it.

      I'm not satirising ALL people who indulge in poetry, rather in my voice as the cruel, obnoxiously defensive old man, I'm satirising myself and therefore allowing myself to satirise others.

      Teenagers write poetry as way of expressing themselves, often through clouded or secretive wording - they are afraid that people don't understand them yet equally afraid that they are too transparent, and they are trying to understand the world around them. This expression is often what leads to musical expression, to songwriting and beyond. That's cool. However, poetry is also used by grown men for exactly the same reason - but with benefit of cynicism. They too, are who I am satirising or, as you so eloquently put it, "trashing". It's an "adult" art form that's far too regarded and in my opinion, that regard needs piercing.

      I understand poetry and its nature. I've studied it and written it. I get no aesthetic pleasure from it, and would posit that in fact it is one of the few arts that the participants get more pleasure from than viewers. I think on my blog I'm entitled to express that opinion, just as you are welcome to dispute it.

      As to trying to hard? In what regard? I'm certainly "trying" to deconstruct various writing forms for my own study, which is hard work in itself. "Trying too hard" is an oft-bandied catch-all insult, used because it lazily offers "ambiguity" without qualification. So I ask again, trying too hard at what exactly? At writing a satirical blog? If I didn't try, it wouldn't write itself. At mocking poetry? This has been the easiest blog I've written yet, it practically wrote itself while I drank coffee and ate chocolate cake. Didn't really HAVE to try.

      I ask you to read the piece again in the vein in which it's presented. It's a satirical piece, as are all my blog articles. And while I don't dispute the years of hard work people put into learning various arts, trades, and ideals, no one is asking them/us to do it. I would therefore dispute anyone who claims they are not opening themselves to criticism.

      Again I offer up my gracious thanks to you for commenting ( as per the "writing a blog "DO" number five" ) and hope you'll continue reading!


  2. Yes, I can see the ryhme in your unbalanced reason at this point (is rhyme spelled right) I dare not critique your blog for fear of being torn asunder, all I will say is, in your words, yes it's very long

    1. Haha, thank you ladykay - please criticise away, I swear I won't asunder-tear you. This whole project is designed to help me grow and develop as a writer and the only way I can do so is by being criticised. Constructively! If the criticism is of the stop being all curmudgeonly and learn to let live type, I'll probably attack. And yes, I'm struggling terribly with length - I am my own worst editor really - which is a slog for people to get through! Come back and read my next one, I SWEAR it will be shorter!

      Thanks for the comment ( and for the very definite lesson in brevity )!


  3. I'm in for another bollocking here but here goes the trying to hard is about now that I think about is that I get the impression that in some way you to me anyway that you are kinda showing of a wee bit I take the point that it is satire but I don't feel let in on the joke I have a sense of disconnect and begin to shut down about half way through don't get me it all seems very clever and all but I with my small and much older brain just as a reader feel a little left out just when I want to be drawn in so maybe the joke is on me then!!!!

    1. A completely valid point Paul, and one I would agree with when it comes to satire in general. It has a thin focus and unless it's razor sharp AND funny can leave readers or viewers on the outside. I'm still working on both aspects! I think the problem here is that, once the joke has been received, with no punchline, where can an article go. I hope that it has made SOME valid points about poetry and my own experience with the exercise. It's certainly opened up a few conversations and debates, both positive and negative, for me with other readers.

      Where I will always take umbridge is where someone says something akin to "you're trying too hard", it always comes across as slightly petulant, and disregarding. It's like "get a life" in that regard. I'm totally open to argument, debate, conflict, and criticism, as long as it's backed up.

      Praise on the other hand I'll take at face value. I'm a whore that way.

      Talk soon Paul