Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

Book Browse


The Great Book Browse

Yesterday, I went

book browsing in Hastings,

among shelves labeled

Writer’s Craft. I know, tut-tut:

knowledge ruins intuition –

that mystic “feeling”,

Poet’s Place warned me.

Watch erudition –

next to knowing an editor,

understanding technique

is the worse killer of art –

all you have to do is “feel”.

Remembering that advice

I screamed a great poem,

fulvous with feeling. Clerks,

very unliterary like,

shushed me. I quit composing

and indignant (critics, critics!)

returned to my graze.

One title, among many

professing secret methodology:

“How to Write Great Fiction”

The book for me!

The author knew his subject-

the whole book was great fiction.

Another made conservative claims:

“Make 50 Thou a Year with Poetry”

Gave a cursory glance, wondering

why sci-fi was catalogued here.

Proof that oxymoron is both

concrete and abstract, I found

“The Dummy’s Guide to Writing,”

big, yellow tome with large print

(three monkeys all in a row?)

I gave a shout of glee.

The same talisman writers

in Poet’s Place possess…

can it possibly teach me

to write that banally?

“Writer’s Guide to Markets-Agents&Publications”

seemed definitive

listing the thousand fools

who’ve rejected me and, perhaps

the one genius who sees my talent?

I bought it then looked for candy –

sweet poetry, rich and decadent,

laid out like pastries in Lit Stacks.

I found poets live and, well, deceased.

Not that the poets were dead, but,

many of their books were. Too many.

I was surprised. How many of these

writers had poet’s place screennames?

I sifted tailings, gleaned

“the Spirit Level” by

Heaney and a compendium:

Dorothy Parker, hefty, perfumed

with delicious new-ink sweat.

Heaney for the entree,

Parker for dessert, then

smugly critique their work.

Compare and weep. Re:

“How to Write Great Poems”

(the next great how-to?)

Bought newest Webster’s Collegiate,

to look up all the words,

in case I need understanding

to “get” the poem. Probably not,

but playing safe, in case I can’t feel it.

Finished by sipping coffee with

Coleridge for a while. Entertaining

fellow, though he talked funny.

I don’t think he’ll ever amount to much.

He uses rhyme after all.

©Charles Elledge 2000


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