Monday, July 03, 2006

The Art of Poetry. (Or the Lack Thereof)

I’ve always struggled to understand poetry. From Shelley and Keats to Biblical psalms to Japanese Haiku -- poetry has always managed to puzzle and amuse me. I haven’t taken any professional courses in poetry or made a concerted effort to try an understand any particular poem, but I figure that if something must be read more than 3-4 times to make its point, then maybe that point isn’t worth getting in the first place. In other words, I give up easily.

The advent of blogging now means that people with the poetic talents of a dyslexic ant are spewing forth their creations upon the world! Most personal blogs you come across will have at least one poem on them, hidden somewhere. Then of course, there are the “poem blogs”, specifically created for such stuff. Let’s face it -- not everyone can have the skills required to write poems. And yet, everyone is writing poems!

There’s something wrong with this scenario. Very wrong. Then it hit me -- poetry writing is one of those rare tasks -- like peeing and laughing -- that requires no skill! Here’s how you can write a poem:

1. Write down some words. Preferably about love or deep pain.
2. Arrange them in lines of either equal or unequal length.
3. Muck around with the grammar a little bit so that it doesn’t seem like prose.
4. Make sure that the composition makes almost no sense. At least at first.
5. Add a title that seems inspired but is actually copied straight out of the Archies comic sitting next to you. Poems need not be connected to their titles in any way.

You don’t believe that poems are little more than a random permutation of words strung together with the odd rhyming pair thrown in? Go around looking at all the personal blogs you know. Look at the poems on them. If you’re still not satisfied, do the following. Take any one particular sample. Twist it a little bit as you wish. Maybe interchange a couple of words here and there. Now see if the poem is any worse than it was when you started. My guess is “no”. And that’s your answer.

The most impressive thing about the professional poets is that they managed to connive a large enough number of people into believing their greatness in order for them to survive. Of course, people are inherently stupid. If you can show them something they don’t understand, they’d prefer to think it is something great rather than to believe that they are stupid. Poets seem to have used this extremely successfully.

So the next time you feel like writing a poem, think very, very carefully about it. Think of exactly what you’re trying to convey and how you wish to do it. Think of whether you wish to have a rhyme scheme or not, and if so, then what scheme. Think carefully about the title.

Then forget about the poem and go watch some TV instead.

7 comments:

"A" said...

i believe i share the same thoughts on this topic.
cause when i try writing a poem ...i go thru the exact steps u have so Benevolently given to thy readers!!!

Abhishek said...

ok, i am going to logically contradict what you are saying here using various subtle levels of argument construction that are imperative to this refutatation.

You suck! You have no comprehension of things, and consider yourself to be a prophet of sorts populating this space with stupid non-arguments like when should I open my umbrella. I mean, what the fuck!

KT said...

ahh, finally someone talks about the nonsense thats polluting the blogosphere. poems. nonsense. complete nonsense. i might as well go and bang my head against the wall.

Monk said...

Ah! but why must a poem in a personal blog make sense to others? Lets face it, most of us blog to shake off excess energy, so be it.

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