Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about Poetry.

'Live in a barrel/ Break your head with a hatchet/ Plant tulips in the rain/ but/ Don't write poetry'

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Ah, Poetry

Billy C. put the thing rather well in Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, when he wrote:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

Amen, Billy. And yet for reasons known only to those lesser lights in the teaching profession, we fail to provide our young with much in the way of sustenance. How they ache for it, too! Visit the Poetry section of Answers sometime to feel the hunger. Most children lead terrible, lonely lives, it seems, and they seek to communicate this but lack the tools. The tools are forcibly kept from them. They are fed instead on endless tales of the fluffy bunny and the kid who with hard work and grit finally makes the The Team! For all those who disdain the vegetarian literary diet, WELCOME!


Sample a few poetry authorities, if you like, but there's nothing like reading and listening to the stuff to get an ear for it. Happily, YouTube brims with it! Strong hint to English teachers: Stop forcing your charges to anticipate what the poor, inarticulate poet is trying to say. If you're out of your depth when it comes to poetry - and we both know most of you are - play the YouTube videos on a giant screen and allow your charges to sit quietly while imbibing and dream. Watch your ratings soar as the healing begins!

The Uncollected Wodehouse

Edited and Introduced by David A. Jasen

To the thinking man there are few things more disturbing than the realization that we are becoming a nation of minor poets. In the good old days poets were for the most part confined to garrets, which they left only for the purpose of being ejected from the offices of magazines and papers to which they attempted to sell their wares. Nobody ever thought of reading a book of poems unless accompanied by a guarantee from the publisher that the author had been dead at least a hundred years. Poetry, like wine, certain brands of cheese, and public buildings, was rightly considered to improve with age; and no connoisseur could have dreamed of filling himself with raw, indigestible verse, warm from the maker.

Today, however, editors are paying real money for poetry; publishers are making a profit on books of verse; and many a young man who, had he been born earlier, would have sustained life on a crust of bread, is now sending for the manager to find out how the restaurant dares try to sell a fellow Champagne like this as genuine
Pommery Brut. Naturally this is having a marked effect on the life of the community. Our children grow to adolescence with the feeling that they can become poets instead of working. Many an embryo bill clerk has been ruined by the heady knowledge that poems are paid for at the rate of a dollar a line. All over the country promising young plasterers and rising young motormen are throwing up steady jobs in order to devote themselves to the new profession. ...

Who can where this thing will end? Vers libre is within the reach of all. A sleeping nation has wakened to the realization that there is money to be made out of chopping prose into bits. Something must be done shortly if the nation is to be saved from this menace. But what? It is no good shooting Edgar Lee Masters, for the mischief has been done, and even making an example of him could not undo it. Probably the only hope lies in the fact that poets never buy other poets' stuff. When once we have all become poets, the sale of verse will cease or be limited to the few copies which individual poets will buy to give to their friends. (From The Alarming Spread of Poetry, pgs. 25-27)

Here, the viewer is asked to suspend his disbelief that the youngster blowing our socks off with that legendary voice of is, in fact, Rodolfo, the starving poet in Puccini's masterpiece, La Boheme:

Aw, who cares, anyway? Poetry is for sissies!

Uncle Fred in the Springtime

By P.G. Wodehouse

A faint stir of interest ruffled the tone of Pongo's face.

"What do you mean, your fine? Were you pinched last night?"

"Yes. There was a bit of unpleasantness at the Ball, and they scooped me in. It was Ricky's fault."

"Who," asked Lord Ickenham, "is Ricky?"

"My cousin. Arlaric Gilpin."

"Poet. Beefy chap with red hair. It was he who introduced this girl Polly to Horace," interpolated Pongo, supplying additional footnotes. "She was giving him dancing lessons."

"And how did he come to mix you up in unpleasantness?"

"Well, it was like this. Ricky, though I didn't know it, is engaged to Polly. And another thing I didn't know was that he hadn't much liked the idea of her giving me dancing lessons and, when she told him I was taking her to the Ball, expressly forbade her to go. So when he found us together there... I say, he wasn't hanging about outside when you arrived, was he?"

"I saw no lurking figure."

"He said he was going to look in to-day and break my neck."

"I didn't know poets broke people's necks."

"Ricky does. He once took on three simultaneous costermongers in Covent Garden and cleaned them up in five minutes. He had gone there to get inspiration for a pastoral, and they started chi-iking (sic) him, and he sailed in and knocked them base over apex into a pile of Brussels sprouts."

"How different from the home life of the late Lord Tennyson. But you were telling us about this trouble at the Ball." (-- pgs. 50-51)

What do you think of this poem? I don't like it.

My friend was over at my house this weekend and we were sitting at desk on my computers and i knocked the desk a little (Its got wheels, so it rolls) and my writing/diary/art book fell out through the back, so i picked it up, but a sheet of paper with a poem on it fell out, and she read it ( i didn't care) and she said it was awesome, she NEVER compliments anything unless she means it. Trust me. I don't get many compliments often from her, nobody does. But anyways, I dont really like it, i think it's one of my less good ones. Whats your opinion? I don't care if you don't like it (I don't like it either), just please dont be mean.

Everytime you feel alone
Everytime you feel depressed
Everytime you feel hurt
Everytime you feel stressed
When your heart is broken
And peices lie amongst the dust
Nobody is around.
You feel like crying... And thats okay
But i know you want to bleed
let out one last cry for help
But it won't make anything better ...

( ... yadda, yadda, ad infinitum. More of the same vile stuff, which Biblitz mercifully excised).

It just doesn't seem like a poem to me, i don't know if its because it doesn't rhyme or not. Does it to you? Im 13 btw

Biblitz replies:

You're quite right and good for you! At only 13, you've correctly identified doggerel no one would ever want to be associated with! Well done! Apparently, though, Mean Friend was moved. Infer from this that Mean Friend is so mean b/c she suffers or b/c her spiritual life is indeed on a plane with that of an unwell halibut fish so this is the sort of garbage that appeals. Offer your sympathy with a gentle pat or two but no more poems! Ugh!


My 12-year-old sister wrote this. Would you kindly rate it on a scale of 1-10?

My 12-year-old sister wrote this poem:


It's a game.
It goes on for a while.
You just need to learn how to play it.
It may be simple.
But as you move on.
It gets harder.

I think it's pretty awkward for a 12 year old to write such a thing. But, what do you think? Rate it please, and she would like some suggestions. Thanks!

Biblitz replies:

10! Excellent! It does precisely what a poem should do! Biblitz salutes cousin and, if you see a few of our replies, you'll see he does not do so lightly! Well done!


Is this an example of personification? It's from a sonnet.

they weep inside, where all ears are deaf,

the EARS ARE DEAF part - because personification is giving human-like qualities to an object. I mean, ears don't go deaf, people do. or am I wrong? Its for a project, I'm not sure if I should use that as a poetic device.

Biblitz replies:

Nope. That's not it. What you want is a clear and logical metaphor in which an inanimate thing is imbued with a characteristic or two only a human being would have. Sounds silly, I know, but try telling Dylan Thomas and people like that.

Scroll through PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Poetry for quite a few examples. You'd be surprised what you can learn (and steal!) from a good Internet gambling Web site!


What do you think of my second draft of this poem?


I have a million questions could you answer honestly?
Can I trust you not to lie and honor family loyalty?

People are ruthless and the world is unforgiving.
Most people are left numb, existing but not living.

So ...

Do you ever want to talk to me just to have a conversation?
To get inside my head. To see what fuels my determination. ...

(Again, alas, Biblitz edits for the sake of embarrassment of all concerned).

Biblitz replies:

Nothing poetic here at all, I'm afraid. It's nothing more than a lecture of complaint. It employs neither poetic language nor device. Why do you think this is poetry?


What poetry is not:

The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks


By Robertson Davies

More of Sam and the book.


I received an undergraduate magazine this morning, containing the kind of poetry which boys and girls write between eighteen and twenty-one, full of words like "harlot," "stench," "whore" and the like. The young have a passion for strong meaty words, and like to write disillusioned verses with jagged edges about the deceit and bitterness of life. I idly turned my hand to versifying, and produced this nice bit of undergraduate poetry, which I offer free to any university magazine:


Take it away!
Life - the thirty-cent breakfast
Offered to vomiting Man
In this vast Hangover -
The World.
Onward I reel
Till Fate - the old whore -
Loose or costive
Drops me in the latrine of Oblivion -

(From Savoury, pgs. 356-357)

Run with the Hunted

Audio Cassette
Masterfully edited by Buk's publisher, John Martin
Written and read by Charles Bukowski

Friendly Advice to A Lot of Young Men

Go to Tibet
Ride a camel
Read the Bible
Dye your shoes blue
Grow a beard
Circle the world in a paper canoe
Subscribe to the Saturday Evening Post
Chew on the left side of your mouth only
Marry a woman with one leg and shave with a
straight razor
and carve your name in her arm
Brush your teeth with gasoline
Sleep all day and climb trees at night
Be a monk and drink buckshot and beer
Hold your head under water and play the violin
Do a belly dance before pink candles
Kill your dog
Run for mayor
Live in a barrel
Break your head with a hatchet
Plant tulips in the rain
Don't write poetry

(From Side One)

What poetry is, according to a few pompous asses, anyway:

Staying Alive

Real Poems for Unreal Times

Edited by Bloodaxe founder Neil Astley

Coleridge: Poetry; the best words in the best order. ...

Keats: It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.

Yeats: Poetry is truth seen with passion.

Boswell: "Sir, what is poetry?"

Johnson: "Why Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is; but it is not easy to tell what it is." ...

Wordsworth: ... Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

T.S. Eliot: ... It is a concentration, and a new thing resulting from the concentration, of a very great number of experiences ...

Sylvia Plath: My poems do not turn out to be about Hiroshima, but about a child forming itself finger by finger in the dark. They are not about the terrors of mass extinction, but about the bleakness of the moon over a yew tree in a neighboring graveyard ... In a sense, these poems are deflections. I do not think they are an escape. (Fom Poets on Poetry, p. 18)