I am ambivalent about poetry. I am quite often disgusted by poetry because I find it pretentious, self-indulgent, or sappy. This is how I feel, in fact, about most poetry, including my own. When I was an undergraduate I submitted Flowers to Pivot, a literary magazine published by Penn State. I was really hurt and angry when they did not accept the poem. I figured that a person had to play by some totally arbitrary artsy-fartsy rules and be part of the art-crowd in-group to get published in the journal, and pretty much gave up on writing poetry after that point. Looking back with some perspective now, I'll bet that the editors of Pivot probably judged the poem as adolescent and hopelessly self-involved.
Thankfully, I have written very little poetry since I was 18. One exception is a little prose-poem about wraiths that thrust itself into my consciousness a couple of years ago, just the way poems are supposed to create themselves.
Very rarely, I think poetry is the greatest achievement of humankind. One poem I have always loved is The Garden of Proserpine by Algernon Charles Swinburne. (Swinburne has been called "a kind of Poet Laureate of atheism.")We had to memorize a portion of this poem, along with about a dozen other classics, in the tenth grade. At the time it wasn't the most pleasant experience, but today I very much enjoy impressing people by reciting portions of Canterbury Tales in middle-English. (Talk about pretentiousness.)
Another poem I love is called Pentagram by Saryl. Sadly, I cannot remember where I found this poem, so I have no idea who Saryl is.
I also think meta's poetry shows spectacularly creative imagination. Check it out.
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July 4, 1996
Updated February 11, 2007