Poesy Ain't Easy

Tired of plot and pacing, prose writer Steve Almond immersed himself in the world of verse for a year thinking it would be a piece of cake only to discover that poesy ain't easy. The Poetry Foundation has an interesting essay by him that takes a look at his not-so-rosy attempt at becoming a serial beret-wearer. They also have a podcast up of Almond that's worth checking out if only to hear some of his writing samples.

From The Poetry Foundation:

In the fall of 1997, I moved to a partially renovated one-bedroom apartment in Somerville. This struck me as a fine place to lick my wounds after the glorious persecutions of grad school. I was a short story writer and a failure and a masochist and I felt certain, within a month or so of my arrival, that poetry—what I took to be its particular brand of exalted suffering—was just the thing to cure me.

I knew next to nothing about versification, but I was crazy for enjambment, a device suited to my lust for the easy gimmick. I enjoyed using terms like “good line” and “syntactical pivot.” In more hysterical moments, I imagined they might get me laid.

I was constantly composing such dreck. I set myself the task of one poem a day and stumbled around in my underpants, pooping out pale imitations of Auden and Philip Levine. I was the Dale Carnegie of poetry: dogged and well-meaning, with no sense of occasion. I was prepared to make anything into a poem, because a poem was just a suite of words designed to express how deeply empathic and observant the poet was.

More here.

Listen to Steve Almond on the Poetry Off the Shelf podcast here.

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