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Bad poetry

Randall Jarrell concludes "Bad Poets" (a mercilessly short piece) with the following:

It would be a hard heart and a dull head that could condemn, except with a sort of sacred awe, such poets for anything that they have done — or rather, for anything that has been done to them: For they have never made anything, they have suffered their poetry as helplessly as they have anything else; so that it is neither the imitation of life nor a slice of life but life itself — beyond good, beyond evil, and certainly beyond reviewing.

The web, of course, allows for the publication of bad poetry like never before. And while the obvious Google search digs up some excellent stuff (which is certainly beyond reviewing), the true gold is to be found in online writing web rings.

There is some incredible work in there, but to call any of it out — to edit or anthologize, even virtually — and place it above the rest would be to deny the perfect poeticism of the whole; if each poem is itself "life itself," then each site containing it — and each web ring containing that — is by far the greater: Entire universes, accidents of happenstance and yet subtle in their mechanics, offering achingly beautiful insights into human existence in its rawest and purest distillation.

January 23, 2002 10:54 AM


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