What are poems now?


I’m not an authority on poetry, I’m just a storyteller. I give my time and effort to the linear, to the symmetrical, and to the logical that inhabit the pattern I am weaving in my stories (however non-linear, asymmetrical, and illogical I get) and not to the open-ended, free-for-all realm of poetry.  My passion and my purpose are spent on the characters and motives and not on the style used.  Yes, I delve in SOC style, but how else best to confront the pool of multi-colored sludge that is the human consciousness; and even then, it is with purpose and logical connections.  So as not to lose the reader.  Poetry is meant for the illogical, the sounds of the language, the connections they can make that storytellers have difficulty making.  

I write poetry sometimes.  But then, poetry is the the marijuana of art forms–everyone’s tried it at least once.  And yes I do love language, if only for its Zen beauty of frustrating ambiguity and ideal communication.

Maybe I just don’t get poetry as an art form.  I crave following a character, of going beyond language to what it represents.  I don’t read enough of it, as a fact, and I guess I want to read more.  But the old greats come to mind when I think of poetry at all (which is something else I have to work on, reading really, really new and contemporary things)–Blake, Dickinson, Plath, Bukowski–and when I don’t think of them, I don’t think of them.

And so I pick up a copy of issue number 10 of The Common and go to page 49 and read the whole poem.  I nod.  Then to page 50, another poem, and read about three lines of the two-page paragraph of random sentences.  And then to page 52, to another poem, and glance at it while I make a face that says “no”.

The first poem, In the Dirt, by Grant Kittrell, is not a poem but flash fiction.  Question: If something could be used as something else, doesn’t it cease being that thing a little more?  What if it that thing is better at being the second thing?

The next poem, In that city, In those circles, by Lawrence Joseph, is a long list of things and actions, all related somehow.  Is that poetry?  When I’m thinking of taking my random writings from my Backburner files from my laptop and throwing them at the wall of publication like a noodle against a wall to see if it sticks… is that the state of art for poetry?  Anything goes?  I can literally submit anything in any form?  Because that’s what I’m seeing right now.

And the last poem I didn’t even read and will not name, because I could read it later.  Does it invite me to read it later?  No.  And maybe that’s the point.  Poetry doesn’t know what it is anymore because its poets don’t want to be anything anymore.  It wants to be anything and everything, however vague, colorless, and angry it may seem.  Here these poets sit in the purgatory of their own making–too talented to be in hell, too slothful to be in heaven.

This concerns me greatly because good poetry, great poetry, influences everything.  Life, not just in art but in all things.  Poetry is what all Bibles are made out of, poetry gets us closer to the inner workings of ourselves than any other art form, possibly better than music, which language still cannot describe correctly.  If we don’t know what our poems are now, we don’t anything of ourselves.

But does that surprise anyone these days?


Please comment below.  I seek your opinions!


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