Px3: Is there anything worse than poetry about poetry?

Here I am, six days into this new spiritual practice of finding and celebrating my poetic and lyric voice. And I’m neck deep in these lessons Stephen Fry keeps hurling at us.

First he has us writing in iambic pentameter, which is fine but is also the earworm of poetic metres and I wind up speaking ba dum ba dum ba dum ba dum for a few hours afterwards. Now he’s got us playing with pyrrhic substitutions and caesuras and weak endings and trochaic substitutions and enjambments (all words that WordPress’s dictionary knows how to spell better than I do), which make the iambic pentameter more interesting but holy cow my head is spinning and it’s not even been a week yet.

This is supposed to be a spiritual practice?

I’m not sure I’ve taken up a practice that’s been hard before. Or maybe I have, but I gave up because it was hard…. that wouldn’t surprise me in the least. This one I’ll stick to, because my 484 days with Hymn by Hymn has shown me what some time each morning doing something creative can do for my spirit and my focus. Plus, y’all are reading. But I’m afraid all you get today is a poem about poetry – full of those things Steve’s making us learn:

Poetry should be easy’ says my brain —
How many emo teens write angsty verse
into the margins of their history notes.
Yet well-formed order-from-chaos takes great care:
an eye to metre… rhythm… caesuras…
and also substitutions and weak endings
requires careful thought. And maybe, too,
a rewrite, better word choices, or – Relief! –
a fresh blank page on which to start again.

One response to “Px3: Is there anything worse than poetry about poetry?”

  1. Try reading Billy Collins’s poem “Workshop” if you want a great example of poetry about poetry. 🙂
    How can I subscribe to your blog. I really like your commentary on the UU hymns. Just by clicking the box for “Notify me of new posts via email.”

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