Other Nasty Habits

Ooooooooh, poetry. Yeah.









I’m no good at poetry. I appreciate some, disdain some and have absolutely no opinion about the majority of it. I understand the theories of poetry, the forms it takes, how it’s supposed to work. I respect the big name poets but have a lot of love for the popular ones. In particular Shel Silverstein and his beautiful ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends” collection.

This pretty well sums up how I feel in general about poetry. Photo of Charles Bukowski copyright 1981 Mark Hanauer. Found here.

That gets me in trouble with serious lovers of poetry. I go on to mention that Charles Bukowski interests me, but that I often don’t get his work like I think I should. That’s my failure. I get Pablo Neruda more, especially his love poems, though I have to read him in translation.

I don’t write poetry any more. I tried after reading Richard Bach, but I just wasn’t good at it. I wrote songs rather than poetry and that’s an important distinction for me. Songs are to be sung and poetry is to be recited. I get that. I get the imagery that has to be evoked in just a few words, the feelings that have to be described with lots of metaphor and space and tune and scale. This makes sense to me. The math of poetry makes sense to me, too, as does the math of music and lyrics individually. The math of a good song is as beautiful as the song itself and I can see it separately.

But I prefer to have more room to express my moods and feelings and imagery.

So I don’t write poetry. Not any more.

And I don’t write songs, either.

That said, I look for the rhythm in my stories, the beats, the crescendoes, the meaningful pauses.

I wrote a series of thirteen short stories with the idea of each story being a song on an album and the album as a whole being a larger work. A series of short stories that told a larger one. Most of them had four movements, chapters, and I serialized it on the web in weekly installments as though I were leaking songs a little bit at a time.

But that wasn’t poetry. That wasn’t what poets do. I didn’t stand up in front a group and recite my verse, I didn’t wear a striped shirt or a beret and sip cappuccino while snapping my fingers. I don’t do ‘slams’. I need more than poetry can provide.

Maybe that makes me a snob.








I’m fine with that. But if I’m going to experiment, I won’t do it in verse where my inadequacies will only be seen for the worst. I’ll do it with a short story rather than a poem. Or a song. I don’t have a venue to share music and I don’t have the time or even the technical knowledge and certainly not the skills to pull off the instrumentation of a song any more. I mess around with Garage Band once in a while, but that’s just noodling. I’ll sometimes think of a line or two that seem to work well together, but they don’t inspire me to write a stanza or a verse. That’s just doodling. I’d rather wax poetic with full sentences, paragraphs and stories, the whole kit-n-kaboodle thing.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at www.jasonarnett.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.