One of the Reasons I Like Writing Poetry
One of the reasons I like writing poetry is that poets get respect but hardly anyone tastes the poetic pudding by reading what poets write.
There isn’t a lot of pressure here, because so few crack a cover.
Oh, they get a lot of lip service. Everyone describes poets as the truth tellers of life.
You hear that from preachers, who also always mention “artists” in the same sentence, just before they quote Rilke, Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins or e e cummings, hoping their parishioners will think their pastor is chuck full of profundity.
Maybe being tagged truth tellers is, in part, why poets don’t get read much.
Who wants to be told the truth especially if it rubs? “Ah, there’s the rub.”
“I beg your pardon!”
When was the last time anyone sat down with Homer, the Greek, or Ovid, the Roman or Virgil or Will Shakespeare or Ferlinghetti, for that matter, and said, “What I really liked was….”?
A former fraternity brother of mine who teaches Shakespeare and has written several very scholarly books on the Bard, which hardly anyone reads, does.
And my brother-in-law’s friend who is a retired classics professor in Scotland who also writes books, which are equally unread, does, too.
Others, like they, read poetry and write books parsing mythic hexameter and iambic pentameter, debating whether or not it was really Will who wrote all that great stuff,
and how much greater the Greek poets were than the Romans with the exception of Seneca, while still wondering if he was a dramatist who wrote poetry or a poet who wrote drama.
Poets get the poet’s corner in the bookstore where they take up as little room as possible with slim volumes, often self-published.
Short story writers don’t get much more attention. They live next door in anthologies of some year’s best picked by other professors who write scholarly books hardly anyone reads.
During the day, in the bookstore, the poets and short-story writers remain really quiet giving the impression they are above the fray. Once in awhile there is a hushed sneeze from all the dust on their covers. No one notices.
But, like Toy Store, the authors of the books come alive after the customers and employees have gone home.
It’s Book Store.
If you were there and very, very quiet and unnoticed and if you listened very intently, you would hear from off in the corner three rooms away,
Poets, amen’d by short-story writers, in a high pitched voice calling to those whose New York Times’ Best Seller books sit on the table facing the door for everyone to see, immediately, as they enter the store.
“You best sellers may be more popular, but we are the true artists; we are the truth tellers. We are real rogues and mavericky not you, Sarah.”
The soothing, calming voice of the Self-help section replies, “Namaste, Shalom, Salaam, my little brothers and sisters off in the small dusty section.
Do not let your smallness and obscurity obscure your vision of the beauty of your inner self. We highly recommend a colon cleanse and yoga.”
Sarah’s bust is big and bold and shiny on the cover of the book that someone else wrote.
She looks out the front door across the street to the Bank of America and winks that really great Saturday Night Live Tina Fey wink.