Poem Day 29

Whatever can be measured on scales will be

– weighed and judged

Good, half-good, great – meh,

Skinny, almost-thin, fat, obese, anorexic

Whomever or whatever is the superior

Pecking order and rank

The problem is to be able to discriminate

You will not always be right

Whose to say, how to judge

Let me tell you —

It’s not by it parts but as an integrated whole

Attempt a few generalizations

Nothing excessive,

Weighty, not fluffy

Fresh, not trite

Unless, of course, it’s ironically deliberate

Never damn it for its flaws, IF

These flaws are compensated for

Not stock, no imitations accepted

No conventions, or sentiments

Popularity is so predictable

The sentimental, the rhetoric, the didactic

These three are all inferior

No sappy, sentimental shit

Gushing tears for every little thing

Like weddings, babies, punishment, love

Pull it together you vulgar sap

Have some command over your feelings

There is so much more worthy

Than your mother’s love and the pitter patter of little feet

This is life, not a hallmark card or lifetime movie

Ideally, respond sensitively

– At appropriate times

Feel deeply only when is time to feel so deeply

Who judges when the time is appropriate

Or what is deserving?

–Drop the pretense, you fop

Generalities and bombast are not

True to form, just trite.

Then there are the preachers

Always trying to teach us

And not in demure, subtle ways

An inspiring lesson wrapped all prettily

Like a Tiffany box without any contents

Excellence is a matter of degree

There are no absolutes

The educated person has the ability to make informed judgements

(As long as they were informed by me)

The ignorant just doesn’t know the difference

But decide what you think

Not what someone else does

(Take it from Us)

Do not say this is this or this or that

Say this is MORE than that

Rank them from least to most

Shove them into a category

And judge them, discuss merit, explain superiority,

Why is one more interesting and meaningful than another?

Not to you, but to the educated mind

Explain using parameters

– As dictated by those above you

Decide which is more worthy of prolonged consideration

– By scholars

Because Art, like Beauty can be judged

As well as everything else,

But should it?

*During NaPoWriMo I have been consulting a book I took out of an old box and dusted off. The book is Sound and Sense, An Introduction to Poetry, 6th ed. L. Perrine (HBJ). It is intended as a manual for the student studying poetry. It explains all the forms and devices of poetry, provides examples and exercises to help you critique poems. There is actually chapters titled Good and Bad poetry and Good and Great Poetry. I take direct lines from throughout the book for this piece.

This is the problem I had being an English major and why I could never be a scholar and live in the world of Academia. Yes, art can be judged and we all have our tastes and preferences, which influence our perceptions. We bring to the table certain experiences and sensibilities which help us to appreciate a work of art or not. The book, which is falling apart page by page has gone in the trash bin. It reminded me of an episode of Murphy Brown where Elden gets a piece of his art in a museum. It is covered by a white cloth and the critics are oohing and ahhing, when the cloth falls on them they exclaim that they get it – they are the art. They did not get it at all!

Then there’s the hysterical scene in Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School where he gets Kurt Vonnegut Jr to write his report on one of the authors own books and the teacher fails him and tells him he doesn’t get Vonnegut! (clip contains adult language)

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