Sunday, March 10, 2013

Madame L: Poetry's Number One Fan

In place of a book review today, Madame L would like to offer some thoughts on poetry. 

Madame L is such a sucker for poetry that she will buy used books of poems by poets she's never even heard of based on simply opening the book and reading a couple of poems.

Madame L even --- gasp! --- checks books of poems out of the library. This she does in an even more random manner: As she's walking around looking for something entirely different (most lately, a book by Lance Armstrong on training for bicycle races)* she makes a point of walking by the poetry section and picking out three or four books to bring home. These stay in a pile on her kitchen table for about a week and a half, until the day before they're due, and then she pulls them out and reads some of the poems.

*Dear Readers, please do not be upset. While Mr. Armstrong is no longer in Madame L's pantheon of sports heroes, she notes that he left out of the book the parts about drugs, doping, and so on, so she accepts his non-druggie training advice.)

Most recently, Madame L has not had the best of luck with the library books. 

For example, Madame L is not particularly interested in poems written by an effete American snob in Paris who, while eating exquisitely small baby back ribs with white asparagus and truffles in an expensive restaurant on the Rue d'Whatev,  dreams of Texas barbecue --- especially since everyone in his or her right mind knows that North Carolina barbecue is the only kind worth eating. 

Likewise, Madame L does not give a fig, or any other fruit or vegetable, either, not even a rutabaga, for some wordy guy's recollections of his grandfather's house in Wisconsin or Minnesota or wherever. Or anywhere.

Madame L wants to scream at some of these poets: Words count! So count your words! Cut out about fifty percent of them, and if you need someone to tell you which ones, then tear down your "I'm a Poet" sign. 

Madame L spent an amazing afternoon yesterday talking to a REAL poet, and she will write more about that experience, and him, sometime soon.

Meanwhile, this afternoon Madame L chanced upon an amazing new way to write poetry for your own amusement:

---Read some random poems from anywhere, and if you can find some really pretentious ones, for example from The New Yorker magazine, so much the better. 

---Read them until you're about sick to death of them. 

---Then pick up the Sunday paper and read any article at random. 

---Note how it seems like poetry. 

---Now, write some random thoughts of your own, based on something that has recently happened to you, spaced out with the lines broken wherever you like.

And, voila! a poem! Here's how Madame L did it today:

The Nursery

Little kids twirl and whirl 
like dervishes 
because they have all that energy to burn off
and I am soaking it up.

Write on, Dear Readers, 

Madame L


AskTheGeologist said...

Awesome. Short and full of imagery.

Madame Elle's favorite husband also reads poetry, but hasn't written a single (serious) poem since he married her, lo these years ago. The reason is because he has been happy all that time since.

Being a Welshman helps to write poetry, but despite the sad history of Welsh poets, alcohol is not in Madame Elle's favorite husband's toolbox. It's been 46 years since he last touched the stuff, but that's not why he no longer writes poems (see previous paragraph).

However, he READS poetry, generally from occasional books he comes across that have titles like "Best Poems of... ."

This selective strategy especially helps to weed out the wordier poems, and the ones written to pad out an otherwise thin book. It also especially helps someone, who reads at least two orders of magnitude slower than Madame Elle, to wade through the dross more efficiently.

And it's all about efficiency, of course. Of course!

Ellen said...

I enjoyed this post very much, and I wish I had something smart or cool to say about it, but I don't; just that I enjoyed reading about how much you enjoy poetry, and rutabagas, and stuff like that. Have a great day!