A Rant against Bad Poetry

I detest bad poetry
And that includes much of my own

I detest even more
The praise for whatever reason of bad poetry

I am amazed at the temerity of people
Who display complete disregard for the rules of grammar

Who cannot spell or use even simple words correctly
Yet insist on writing poetry in a language they abuse

They often take leave of logic as well
And trot out the much -misused term “ poetic licence “

To justify the multitude of linguistic and poetic sins
They commit and stubbornly go on committing

O you compulsive versifiers ! Writers of doggerel !
And those who think repeated references to the female anatomy

Or the reproductive act makes their poems sensuous !
Or those who think perpetually trying to drum up sympathy for women

As the much wronged gender ( transgenders actually have it much worse )
Or references to God in a Sufi sense or any other religious or secular sense

Or perpetual philosophising with no imagery or rhyme or rhythm
Or self – righteous didactic hammering and imposition of ones personal views

Is poetry – and who seek ( and Muse forgive us , even get )
Affirmation or even appreciation for repeat crimes

O you who repeatedly the fair name of poetry abuse !
Will no one hold up the mirror to your sins against the Muse ?

For profit or for power , for fame or for influence
People go on massaging the massive egos

Of these so called poets , and the world is deluged by doggerel
None said it better than the brilliant Pope :

“ Out with it, Dunciad! let the secret pass,
That secret to each fool, that he’s an ass:
You think this cruel? take it for a rule,
No creature smarts so little as a fool. “

Open frank criticism is taken as appreciation
With no attempt at self reflection or course correction

Shattering all rules of grammar and logic
Perpetually misspelling words under the umbrella excuse that English is not your mother- tongue

Exasperated , I take to pointing out specific sins
Only to be met with unrepentant grins

“ Who shames a scribbler? break one cobweb through,
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew;
Destroy his fib or sophistry, in vain,
The creature’s at his dirty work again;
Thron’d in the centre of his thin designs;
Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines! “

This of bad poets , then this of their double- faced , forked-tongued facilitators
Their putrid- minded panderers : “ One flatt’rer’s worse than all.

“Of all mad creatures, if the learn’d are right,
It is the slaver kills, and not the bite. “

I abhor the fact that almost no one thoroughly reviews
Or points out to me where I myself have erred against the Muse

The general idea seems to be to wrap fragile poetic egos in cotton-wool
And flog them for money , or fame , influence or power , directly or indirectly

Online poetry groups and e-magazines
Are some of the worst offenders in this direction

The Intellectual ( seems an absurd word in this context , perhaps I should say the Un- Intellectual ) progeny of Mcgonagall flourish
No lack of those prepared to nourish

Though why they do so I’m not really sure
I’ve hazarded guesses but can’t find a cure

Save us , Muse ! from those who abuse
Poetry for their selfish use .

3 thoughts on “A Rant against Bad Poetry

  1. Pushmaotee Subrun

    Why keep on thinking of Pope? Certainly we have to revise before submission of poems …but practice makes perfect! I hope nobody gets discouraged to post poems after reading ‘A Rant against Bad Poetry’…

  2. amitapaul Post author

    Pope puts the plight of poetasters and doggerel writers so pithily, but we also have others like Dryden if you prefer variety.
    I do hope people will ponder over the points raised . There is no virtue in giving a free pass to bad grammar , wrong spelling and lack of logic albeit only the internal logic of a poem.
    This should inspire people to revise and use spellcheck at the very least.
    One of the points of joining a poetry group is to improve one’s work and bring in variations on various themes and form , learn and practice forms of poetry and prosody , old and new , instead of remaining stuck in any one form and going on stubbornly repeating the same mistake again and again .

  3. Louis Kasatkin

    It is of course axiomatic that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and thus likewise “good” poetry is in the mind of the reader.
    My personal motivation and one I’ve endeavoured to communicate to classes of schoolchildren down the years in my masterclasses is that you ought to write the kind of poetry that you would want to read.


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