Poetry a la Mode

Readers may remember my New Year’s Resolution was to be more selective and ambitious in my poetry submissions. As a methodical and rightminded citizen of the poetry universe my first step was to obtain some samples of those journals which had been recommended to me, and the first one of those, the Kenyon Review, arrived this week.

I admit that reading this beautifully reproduced and respected journal did not exactly fill me with confidence. The truth appears to be that there is a fashionable way to write poetry in the twenty-first century, and also that it is not the way I write poetry. Now, as a poster child for spectrum theory, I do not believe that there is any right or wrong way to write poetry. I also found several fine examples of this new poetry within the pages of the Kenyon Review. Therefore, it is not the form of this poetry which is the problem, but only its perceived superiority to all other kinds of poetry, including those derived from received forms, which are of course more typically the kind I write.

After some soul-searching I wrote two poems, one an attempt to write something in the new form which I considered good by my standards i.e. a poem which makes the reader feel a new emotion or sense a new idea, and one a satire. Satire is an underused tool in this century I fear–we in Pobiz are too desperately earnest about our art and terrified of not being taken seriously.

I shall send the first of these poems to my Bennington teacher and see what she thinks. The second is for you all. Enjoy!


How to Write a Twenty-First Century Poem

Not directly:

the sentence or the syntax.


Chaucer is dust and the stanza break


gratuitous. Next something about the light

in a Vermont snowstorm.


                                                O white space.


Working the page like a pickpocket

in Times Square                        the oblique reach


for something of value.


O meaning!


Deeper than a mirrored Alp.

                                    Il faut que vouz repetez.

Chaucer is dust and the line

broken             in          pieces.

                        Ich bin nur eine dumme Hausfrau.


O can this go on forever,

            or will it just





  1. Gail White

    Brilliant. This is just the way modern poetry is written.
    (My husband, who has heard all too much of it by going with me
    to readings, also does a brilliant impression of the way modern poetry is READ –
    you know, the toneless, everything-sounds-like-a-question mannerisms.)
    Thank you for nailing it!

  2. hollis

    Omigod, you totally ripped this poem off of the poets in my last “master class.” Of course, they in turned ripped lines off dead white male writers from the Continent.

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