Reflections on the inaugural poem

January 21st, 2009 by Ken

Reflections on the inaugural “poem” if one is inclined to call it a poem, which I am not.

Poetry is entertainment that leads to discovery.  It’s singing words dancing with each other.  It’s disciplined, with rhythm and rhyme and a close-fisted use of language.

The fewer the words, the crisper the impage.  The crisper the image, the harder the punch.  The harder the punch, the more memorable the poem.

A poem is at home with heroes.  A poem shacks up with villians too.  It’s a public record of triumph and tragedy.  And it’s something we can carry around in our heads to recite at inaugurals and funerals or when we’re in love.

Unfortunately it’s been hijacked by school teachers who write for each other, in journals,  in order to give each other awards and grants.  They use words academic, and plodding,  like old plow horses trying to find footing in rocky ground. 

They have forgotten how to sing, using plain words, the words that we use everyday, the words that great poets have used since before Homer,  to make a smile nest on the corner of our lips, or a tear to cloud our eye.

A great poem is emotion raw and naked.  And it’s also truth, for emotions cannot lie.

(This article was written by Northwest Poet Joe Illing.  Illing has written several volumes of poetry and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.)

Posted in The Real News

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