Ars Poetica

Poetry isn’t entertainment for birthday parties. Bankers’ wives in their diamonds and minks are not chauffeured to poetry events. In a job interview, a poet would rather say he’s a musician. Poetry does not promote discipline in the army, whereas the army has its own musicians. Dentists and gynecologists don’t ask poets to recite their latest poems. That would be too intimate. In Hamlet, reading poetry is a sign of madness. You will not find real poetry in grade school; real poetry is not approved of in high school. Poetry is not an education; it’s an experience. Poetry is popular like the sea lion; after the sea lion has died and washed up on the shore everyone wants to look, although they find it distasteful. Yet the news cannot be written without poetry, money cannot be made or lost, goods manufactured or made obsolete, minerals mined, crops reaped, couples met, kids raised—all these are evidence that poetry is not entirely confined to padded cells but leaks out and infects us in ways we don’t understand.

24 June - 3 July 2001