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August 09, 2009


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Agree, natch.


Makes sense to me; haven't yet encountered a good poet who wrote bad prose.

hmm. "poems can be faked." Maybe this is just semantics, but a good poem and good prose both involve resonant language,writing that moves a reader. Like an orgasm. If you don't know whether you've had one...well...and then I guess they can be faked, but who is fooled? Who benefits? When you read a faked poem, do you feel that you've read a poem? Are you satisfied? I think not. And does it follow that if good poets write good prose, good prose writers write good poems? hmm. Jury still out for me.

I've read plenty of poems that felt "faked" to me, but very little prose that has felt similarly false (meaning prose that seems to have substance but lacks it under closer inspection).

However, this quote implies that poetry is cheap and easy and prose is more valuable, which I don't think is true. I think it's easier and more common to write bad poetry than it is to write bad prose, but it's also more difficult to write genuinely good poetry than it is to write quality prose. Perhaps this means that poetry should be the true criterion for literary intelligence.

Lesley I wouldn't equate "bad" with "faked". I think one could and, as for myself does, write bad poetry that isn't faked. Faked to me implies inauthentic.

Thank you Sally, Lesley, Marissa, Zach, everyone, for these stimulating comments. I like the comparison of poem to orgasm (both can be faked, up to a point) and the distinction between fake and bad. Oscar Wilde wrote, "All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling." Bt of an overstatement but very effective.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
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of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
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"After You've Gone"
on the piano
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of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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