The Big Tent

Wednesday evening, at one of the two open mike poetry readings I attended this week, one person responded to my cute, little Bernie Song (“I’ll Vote Blue No Matter Who Just as Long as it’s Bernie” by saying that it wasn’t truly poetry because poetry is meant to ennoble the spirit, raise the level of discourse, stuff like that.
I wasn’t bothered. That should, indeed, be a use of poetry, and sometimes I do aspire to that. But, poetry is a big tent. It has many different purposes, many different styles.
Then, yesterday, I was watching (It’s Netflix. I’m binging.) Star Trek: The Next Generation and it was the episode with Data’s poetry reading, in which he read the poem “Ode to Spot” which, despite the fact that it was supposed to be an example of bad poetry and some in the audience were falling asleep (Riker was actually snoring) I thought was pretty good.
I mean, check these lines:

I find myself intrigued by your sub-vocal oscillations
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.

It’s the kind of poem that makes me say “I wish I’d written that.”

Then Data was talking to Geordi about it the next day and asked if it ‘elicited an emotional response’ and Geordi admitted that it did not.
It sort of made me realize why my poetry is going nowhere. I like using big words, I like keeping the rhymes and meter tight, and I’m much more interested in a clever line than tugging at the heart strings, which I am not so good at.
Whatever. It’s the way I write. If nobody cries at my poems, I’m O.K. with that. If they don’t laugh at my poems, well, I’ll write more until they do.

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