Why poetry is dead

….because you sucked all the fun out of it poets and magazine editors in your pretentious quest to make poetry some higher more grand form of art…..

poetrydead

I was reminded of the fact that so many poets (and many artists in general) are pretentious, stuck-up and just rude to new writers. A “friend”of mine a few weeks ago had a status mocking someone that she had rejected for the online journal she started. The sheer joy that she took in mocking another individual was outrageous, especially the other artist friends of hers that joined in.

And I grew angry.

What right did she have to mock another writer? Is she any more qualified to say what is good art and what is bad than anyone else? So what, she paid a few bucks to throw up a website. Anyone could do that. She had a few poems published. Oh well, most writers do at some point right, especially if you are friends with the editors.

And I was reminded of all of the horrible experiences that I have had over the years: the journals who couldn’t even send me a form letter of response, the instructors and other artist who I met that shamed my publications for not being in “good” magazines but then when published in the same or similar journals acted like they were God’s gift to poetry, the professors who told me good poetry can’t rhyme, the journals that said they would accept my work if I paid for their editing services first, the critique sessions I went through where people just tore into each other instead of saying anything productive……

And I was reminded how I hate this part of the art world.

So, as a some-what successful artist, I’d like to say, just stop.

Art is beautiful. Even crappy art. It’s beautiful because someone took the time to make it. And while it may not be amazing, there is always something you can take from it and room to improve.

And art is practice. Most people don’t start off amazing. Give support. Give advice.

Stop making art this grad excessive mountain to summit and focus of the beautiful journey it is.

 Also stay tune, this rouge artist just had two more poems accepted for publication…..but I’m sure my artist friends would not be fond of the journal ( 🙂 )

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51 comments on “Why poetry is dead

  1. I find that poetry is an art form that comes like most art from the heart. To be look down upon by others and trampled on is like being trampled on your own heart.
    I love writing MY poetry. It does not rhyme.not always but it comes from within.They are my words.No matter how lame or simple i make it sound.

    I never tried to get published. I just write. And enjoy my journey and hope with that i can inspire others.

    Congrats as any magazine would be a blessing. They recognize art as art that is a part of you.

  2. I understand your frustration;however, there is some validity to being criticized and harshly made fun of. In some ways a great deal of them we gain insight and perspective. While like you I do not condone this behavior it in some ways is a necessary evil and part of the expressive process. Think about it I would be willing to bet that by experiencing this or taking part of it at some point in your life you have grown stronger more confident and insightful. Perspective is one of the greatest gifts of criticism.

    • I respectfully disagree. There is never a need to be made fun of. Criticism is one thing, and I am fine with it as long as it is constructive, but mean spirited mocking serves no purpose. There are other ways to grow strong, and life is good enough at supplying challenges with us.

      • I’m with you Rach. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. You’d think that self-declared experts on the human condition would understand that – which, more’s the pity, they probably do.

        When it’s a “necessary evil” to be mocked and ridiculed, the problem lies with the entire world.

    • There are two sorts of critics–the narcissists, who make it all about them, wrapped in the artifice of objectivity but truly laser-focused on burning down anything, everything in range in order to elevate, celebrate themselves at the expense of others, and sadly these are often the wittiest, funniest, most delightful criticisms because it’s showmanship–fireworks and explosions. You’ll recall these people from school days as the ones who taunted loudest, and who secretly were the saddest, the most self-loathing. Genuinely positive critics don’t loll about in the perceived failures of others, like the proverbial pig in shit, but rather offer solutions to clean up the mess, point out solid ground that might next time be a better foundation on which to build. As far as I’m concerned, the victory of poetry comes from the writing side–the experience of setting thought in ink. The rest is all learning–we learn from reading, reacting, discussing. When the discussions turn petty and small, that’s when we begin to learn more about the critic than the poet and her work. For the record, some of my favorite writing found on wordpress happens to be the least technically proficient–what the hell is a “good” poem, anyway. One that behaves, like a docile dog on a leash? Pffft. I put in my time at the knee of good teachers and know all the rules of most of the forms, and yet my rule is this: in poetry we learn the rules so that we might know what we need to break.

  3. “…And I was reminded how I hate this part of the art world…”

    Oh yes — you got it right, there. What ought to be a creative community with some sense of fellowship — “us against the world” — too often splinters into catty cliques of this in-crowd, that “ism” and insular sub-groups of hipper-than-thou-ness. Surely not unique to poetry circles. Writers, visual artists…all the arts sometimes become infected. You’re probably proceeding the right way: Get angry. Then get over it. Then get back to work. It’s all any of us can do, right?

  4. I had stopped submitting to journals and only focused on my novels, mostly because of exactly what you are talking about here! I am now inspired to go back and try some more. Why should I give up on that part of the dream just because someone else either has self-confidence issues or is just having a bad day and needs someone to rag on! (ok, so not all of them are like that…but a few have struck as the bully on the playground, looking to inflict pain to ease their own).

    Congratulations on the publication! Doesn’t matter where, it matters that someone is reading the words!

    http://alaynabellesmom.wordpress.com
    http://www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes

  5. I love and echo this post as well as the comment from Ranting Crow. A poem is a poem, is a poem, no matter where it exists. As with all art, some will find it beautiful, others repugnant. I write for myself and share it hoping it finds those in need of its message. The best way to combat the naysayers, in my opinion, is to keep on creating. Also, encourage other poets to create, as you have done here. Good Job!

  6. Whew, I can relate to this post. I’ve had a few poems published, but for the most part, I’ve given up on submitting them. Instead, I post them on my blog and hope that readers will enjoy them. I am all for constructive feedback, but I have found that poetry editors in particular can be downright brutal, and completely unhelpful, with their rejections. I submitted a poem to a very small press, and the editor responded by saying that he would take the high road and not rip my work apart. Then he copied and pasted an entire Mary Oliver poem in his response and told me that’s what he was looking for in his magazine. Seriously? I love Mary Oliver’s work, but if someone doesn’t write like her, their work shouldn’t be automatically discarded. What a boring world it would be if we all wrote the same way. We do learn from constructive feedback, and I’ve appreciated every rejection I received that included a comment with the intent of helping me to improve my writing. Unfortunately, this type of feedback isn’t common from the poetry markets, and frankly, life is too short for me to be told I need to write more like Mary Oliver. My advice to all you writers out there is this: write what you’re passionate about, keep working on your craft, and to hell with pretentious nitwits who want to tear you down.

  7. A very interesting post and I totally agree. Poetry, as with all writing, is very subjective so what one person may find appealing, another person may just not ‘get’ at all. I think that this subjectivity is even more so with poetry as it is open to so many interpretations. I once sent several poems off to a publication. They weren’t able to publish because my poems didn’t fit in with the premise of what they were looking for, but they did let me have some positive feedback about several of the poems. Ironically, the ones that I was most proud of they totally ignored, but the ones that I thought weren’t as good, they praised, and they put their own interpretation on what I was trying say through the poems.

  8. Here, here. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and will always be subjective. We “indie” artists have broken through the gates of the big publishing companies and are now free to share our art with like-minded people, regardless of which class circle they are in. There’s little patience for people with grandiose, snobbish contentions in the free world of blogging. As the old saying goes, “if you have nothing good to say, then better to say nothing at all.” However, constructive criticism should always be appreciated in order for us to grow.

    Cheers!

  9. yay you for this post. poets aren’t the only ones guilty of snobbery and pretense, fiction writers (specifically short fiction because i don’t know the world of novel publishing) can also be terribly exclusive. first, the stories tend to have similar voices because aesthetics are dictated by a few editors who seem to prefer a certain style. and it’s almost like nepotism because they, the editors, pub each other in their own publications. so there’s there’s what i’d like to call a voice vacuum. but what can i do, i submit and sometimes i get lucky enough to have them like my voice.

  10. yes, in order to improve and grow as a writer, one must have thick skin. i joined this writers site a few years ago but was forewarned by my mentor that they can get pretty brutal. they can be but they’ve been, for the most part, helpful, which has enabled me to look more objectively at my work and be my own editor.
    thing is some writers want to get there the easy way. there isn’t one, unless you have your own publication and can post your stories. i worked hard and still working hard at my craft. i do it for the pleasure of writing, without expecting to gain fame or fortune. it’s the creative challenge that motivates me

  11. I have to question the judgement and compassion of anyone who would mock a writer’s work on a social media site. There’s an editor/poet/teacher I am friends with that regularly, every day, posts statuses bitching/laughing about her student’s work – with examples. Thank god she doesn’t name names. But every time I see one of her derisive statuses I am appalled because she is such a sensitive poet and is very nice otherwise. I can only assume she doesn’t realize how she comes across when she does this. It really bothers me.
    Anyway, I feel grateful I’ve had way more positive interactions with editors and other poets than many. I hope it keeps going that way.

  12. Which exactly why i write for no one but myself on my blog. I dont care for editing, if i wanted my work perfect, i would pay someone to make it perfect, but its not, because i am not perfect.

    Much applause to you writer. Write on, and may all the haters drown in your ink..

  13. Seuss and Silverstein were my first childhood romances filled with air laughing a midst stuff animal comfort no teacher could sanction

  14. Art is beautiful. Even crappy art. It’s beautiful because someone took the time to make it. And while it may not be amazing, there is always something you can take from it and room to improve.
    I love this 🙂

  15. The loudest critics often see themselves as self-styled gatekeepers, protecting the unwashed masses from bad art. I see these same people as talentless pimples who can neither do, nor teach— merely criticize. I pity them. Who would wish to be so fatuous and bitter that their only joy is in badly phrased criticism? Laugh it off, and thank them for taking the time out of their “busy” day to read your material.

  16. Reminds me of a painting that was originally credited to some school students back in Raphael’s time– modern day worth about $7 million. Later a newspaper article declared that the work of art was authenticated to be done by a famous artist– now bringing its worth to $20 million. As if the quality of the painting didn’t have the same luster if it had been done by those students. I’ll tell ya– I respect all the artwork and writings that I view on these blog sites. Peace.

  17. Very well put, I wonder how many great poets we haven’t seen because of the constant sniping and ruining of any effect that poetry is meant to bring to the writer as well as the reader…some people just do my head in.

  18. Making fun of people’s art is never right. Self-expression is a very important part of being human. On the other hand, flattery is often a more sophisticated form of making fun of people.

    A professional must be open to criticism, and anybody, who can’t take unflattering criticism shouldn’t ask for advice.

    When people used to ask me to take a look at their work, I’d often begin by asking what they expected from it. If I thought their expectations were too high for my own opinion of their talent, I’d begin by looking at the most positive points of what they’d created to praise them, and then try to offer what I believed to be creative criticism on parts I wasn’t so impressed with.

    However, I’d always try to end on a positive note by saying that my opinion was just that, and others might think differently. I might not be able to see things they would, and anyway, the most important factor was how much they enjoyed writing poetry, painting or whatever else they did.

    I play guitar. A few people think I do it well, but I know I’m not so good. Their opinions are coloured by our friendship. Good guitarists are not so complimentary. But I enjoy it and won’t stop just because my sense of rhythm isn’t really up to it.

    I enjoyed the article, but…

    Just joking! There are no buts.

  19. We only concern ourselves with criticism from sources that we value (e.g. editors, experienced poets, etc.). So the problem with excessively critical comments is that we have – by definition – no defense against them. Unlike, for example if a 4-year-old said it was a bad poem – we’d be charmed rather than hurt.
    So I look on excessively critical comments as opportunities to deconstruct my heroes. In other words, I consider the comment in the round. If it is excessively critical (and by that I mean it is beyond my capacity to respond to productively), then the commenter has erred, and so becomes a less valued source of criticism in my eyes.
    Their next comment may be more productive, and that would be great, but in the meantime…… 🙂 It’s one way to navigate this world.

  20. A lot of the nastiness comes from people with low self-esteem who believe that tearing others down elevates them. Poor fools. Unfortunately, this permeates society beyond the arts.

    Also, I’ve noticed that many people don’t understand what feedback is. Some think the question of feedback is whether you liked it or not. Nope. That’s not feedback. Some think feedback is telling you how they would do it. Nope. That’s not feedback either.

    Feedback is more in line with telling someone what is working and to do more of that, telling someone what is not working and to avoid some of that, telling someone whether or not they are achieving the affect they are looking for.

    Here’s a good article on giving and getting good feedback that everyone should read.It’s from a business perspective but applies to the arts.

    http://scottberkun.com/essays/35-how-to-give-and-receive-criticism/

    Joe

  21. I no longer write much poetry, though it was one of my mainstays when I was young (I’m now 56). My experience has turned me to fiction writing, so that’s what I do. But here’s what I would say about at least two things to do with poetry: most people can’t speak to what a good poem is until the poem has stood the test of time. Which is to say, we all know what we individually like best, and what makes us feel that special feeling poetry is supposed to give, but I don’t think truly great poems identify themselves until a lot of time has passed (as opposed to merely well-crafted but mediocre ones, or even just plain bad ones that follow some modern trend, but pass with it). That is why there is a so-called “canon” of great works, and why some works pass out of it from time to time, and others take their place: because readers and writers get together and voice their opinions, and sometimes these opinions dictate a change in some works’ popularity. As well, I don’t think it’s possible to say that great poems can no longer rhyme. Rhyme is a tool like any other tool, it may not be the most used one now, but there’s no reason why, if you like, you can’t try to bring it back into fashion, even single-handedly (and I guarantee, you wouldn’t be alone, unless I’m mistaken even poets of the reputation calibre of Mary Oliver occasionally rhyme a poem in some parts of it). I agree with you that there is also no reason why critics can’t be civil and express their caveats with submissions in a nice way, assuming that we are all here to learn, and taking their shot at trying to teach something useful, if they really have anything useful to say. You are free to ignore life’s teachers, even the critics among others, who can’t express themselves in a helpful, generous way. SPAJA, my friend (S.ome P.eople A.re J.ust A.ssholes!).

  22. Yes, I agree. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes, extremely insecure people like to make others feel less worthy because this is the only way that they can feel competent. Somebody kicks them in the heart. As soon as they get the chance, they do the same. It turns out words hurt more than “stick and stones”. Yet when you hurt others this way, you damage your own soul. There is a difference between constructive criticism and verbal abuse.

  23. If poetry is dead, then can I throw Shakespeare in the fire, too?:P

    I know SOME can be rude/snobs. But, not all. And, I am more inclined to accept someone’s criticism of one/a few pieces of my work…but not all. And, even if someone just doesn’t like any of my work, 1) I don’t have to spend every day with that person telling me 2) hopefully they can show me something of merit for comparison instead of boasting about some distasteful thing they made and 3) it’s just one opinion.

    Of course, it’s not good when a group of “wasps” forms. But, what can you do? They’re out there…like oxygen.

    I suppose it’s the big business we face in so many directions that makes being happy with our own lives and work so difficult. Again, what can we do? As long as we pay critics and grade everyone on everything, it’s like breathing….more like smoking.

    Art, like people, may be beautiful to some and ugly to others…but even as I encourage people to embrace their talents, where do we go with all of the art? I blame the New York Times for making everyone think they are a best seller. Who are the worst sellers? Who knows. But, everyone is putting out books just for having a panic attack, a baby or breakfast. And, who is reading all of these books? I guess more bookworms than I’ll ever know.

    I’d be more inclined to say art is therapy. Art is yoga for those of us who don’t want to fold our legs or risk barfing up lunch posing like some odd dog or tree.

    To each their own (art). And, let every artist be wise when deciding what to share and what to keep private. Exercise privacy when creating nudity. Nudity may be beautiful to some. But, not everyone has to see it everywhere. And, pardon my criticism, but posing dead, peeled bodies is not a good art form to me. It’s cruel, creepy and just plain wrong. Just like misusing religious artifacts.

  24. A piece of good advice might be: “When you feel the need to say something negative, go work on something of your own design.” That’ll save a few feuds and bitter departures.

  25. Well said. Criticism is essential for artistic growth, and none of us with any ambition to improve our art want empty praise, but to mock an individual for sharing something of themselves and their souls, which may have required a supreme act of bravery on their part, is unforgivable. No-one starts out with their artistic vision and ability complete, yet so many forget where they came from, and look down on those starting out on their journey. Aristotle said ‘A work of art is a corner of nature seen through a temperament’ therefore all art is valid, its quality subjective, and the very fact that someone chose to create something rather than destroy something in my opinion makes the world a better place.

  26. Pingback: When your give birth to your literary babies | Street of Dreams

  27. This is true of poetry and writing in general. I write some truly awful stuff on my best days and that’s okay. I’ve read some pretty awful stuff too, and that’s okay too. It really is all about the journey for some of us and always will be. If life was all about the end product we would all just hurry to our deaths, and what fun would that be.

  28. I agree.

    It goes without saying that you’re not going to please everyone, so I think the best approach is to not even try for that.

    What annoys me are the people who aren’t even capable of understanding why I would want to create something.

    …or anything.

    It’s just NOT in them to understand though, and I get it.

    It’s when they interrogate me like I’M the moron; that’s when I get annoyed.

    Them: “I…I don’t understand. WHY would you take the time to make a sign that reads, “WANTED: EXORCIST! URGENT!” and then post it on the communal office bulletin board?”

    Me: “Well, because it’s funny and stuff?”

    Them: “…but that board is typically used for notifying people of bake sales, charity drives, people who want to rent out a spare bedroom, sell a snow blower…”

    Me: “Exactly. That’s why it’s funny. It’s good if only for the fact that no one else thought to do it. It’s completely out of place and amusing to think that someone is in urgent need of excising some malevolent demon, you know?”

    Them: “…but you clearly put a lot of work into it. Look at all those tear-away phone numbers.”

    Me: “Well hell, it’s got to look a LITTLE authentic, right?”

    It’d be like me belittling a person who spent four years of university in a classroom learning mathematic formulas that they’ll probably never use.

    “But…WHY? WHY would you do that to yourself? Don’t you consider it a HUGE waste of time? Time you wish you could get back?”

    But I wouldn’t do that.

    Because they probably enjoyed it.

    Because those people are wired to do it.

    …compelled.

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