DEGREES by Joseph Hargraves

"A poem requires metrical form
for permanence," she said.

I said that in most current usage
the simile, end-rhyme and metrically exact verse,
were hackneyed, if not archaic.

She harrumphed,
"you will be laughed out of academia."

I told her I had ditched academics
when I dropped out of high school;
then quoted Henry Miller:
"everything taught is a lie."

She started loudly,
"you'd better be careful
not to make the mistake
self-educated writers make,
with their eccentric
literary theories.
Even the neo-formalists aren't formal enough,
they don't know an anapest from Budapest."

She was annoying me
and knew it, so continued,
"you need to go back to school
and get a Master's
or you will never be taken seriously
no matter how good your poems are.
Why do you think I got mine?
Besides, I can teach."

I smiled. She went on,
"and poetry must never be used
to attack people-
that's hatefulness, not art."

Her poems were never
as lively as her tirades-
now I knew why.


maria said...

Hell yeah, brilliant. Can't tell you how much I love this. I loathe those academic types so much and they really are the most souless dull writers.


You're spot on!

Karen said...

you can't replace truth and passion with technique. good write Joe ;]

Anonymous said...

Nikki says,

Graduate school is an apprenticeship in other people's ideas. That's why you can easily forget the poet in yourself when you achieve the degree. You can easily forget a lot of things, including why you wanted the goddam degree in the first place. I'm sending this to a friend of mine.


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