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Bad Poem Tricks

Ok. So what are the steps to writing a bad poem? In the first place, just a write a poem! It is likely to be bad already. So even the at...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Sam taught Emily and I how to make tortillas"

I saw someone I respect on a social media site use this construction... [cringe] Of course this is the error of the well-educated person for whom "Emily and me" sounds like a mistake even when it is the object of the verb, not the subject. So much the worse.

Of course I would never be so rude as to point out this mistake to the person making it. But be warned: I will judge you for this even if I don't say anything.


I'm using this phone app to learn Irish. The app is base on a simple principle of practicing every day. My daughter is visiting and doing it with Spanish, a language that she never studied despite having two Spanish professors as parents. She will progress more rapidly than I.


I think I have a different metabolism because I often find even short poems to be too long. I think, I could say that in about half the words. That could explain too why people don't find my poems very good: maybe they think the poem is just not enough, that there is not enough there there.

Here is one that I wrote as part of a bad book that ended up being good (imho).

There are skyropes

If you find one

you can climb quite high

past cold clouds

Here's another one:


My book Pristine

was rejected 14 times

but never so cruelly

as by the woman for whom it was written

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Parodic Swerve

It takes very little swerve to transform a serious imitation into a parody, or a seemingly good poem into a bad one. Sometimes it is only the failure to mimic the original faithfully. The way a caricaturist will exaggerate the most prominent feature of the subject's face. Of course I prefer a slightly more subtle form of parody in most cases. Elizabeth Bishop would be almost impossible to parody, not only because she is so good, but because there is almost no endearing weakness. I like poets more who open themselves up to gentle mockery.

Someone at last...

Someone at last will recall
the resting silences
of the birds.

We are impulses
in the jungle
of desolation.

childhood has awakened
all the imperceptibility
of a kiss
ancient as the color
of paradise.


found this in an old file of poems. I am not sure if it is a translation or a poem I wrote. I will have to see if it is by Lola V. or not. It is not a super-bad poem, but just sounds like a parody / translation of her work.

Theory of Poetry

The poet feels an emotion

puts that emotion into words

the reader reads those words

and does not feel that emotion

unless the poem is really, really good

Friday, August 19, 2016


if you get lost in vague ideas and forget that there's any kind of melody and rhythm and forget how funny words can be, and forget to make even a picture then naturally the poetry gets boring. or, you know, nobody wants to read it but if you stick with the picture and some music and some intelligence about the words then naturally there's something to interest, like a little toy puzzle, to interest anyone. And if you do it in your own language, that is with your own rhythms, the way you speak, vernacular, then it's like regular speech of everyday, but all of a sudden heightened by your own intelligence of speech and mindfulness that you're putting into it - extra-picture, extra-pretty-music, and extra-sense to the words. So it's just ordinary mind heightened by a little more awareness, or intelligence, or energy, that you put into it (even more energy that [sic] you put into it)
That's pretty obvious, right? My entire graduate seminar is going to be based on this.

Interestingly, I was reading yesterday something Borges wrote, quoted in an essay by Guillermo Sucre, and Borges just says the logos is the thing. For pictures, go to painting, for music, go to music, he says. I don't agree, but that's a revealing kind of difference from the Lorquian / Poundian poetics of music / image / intelligence all at once to a kind of poetics that Borges favored, or said he did.

Ginsberg keeps repeating the phrase "the dance of the intellect among words." Perloff used that phrase as the title of a book. The late poet and my friend Ken Irby also used the Poundian trilogy of ideas.

Logopoeia linked to the vernacular. That's a powerful idea, since it is much easier to see verbal wit in non-vernacular poetries, based on baroque models, than in more vernacular forms of poetry.