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Monday, May 01, 2017

What's Left

It's the end of Camp NaNoWriMo and I have a poetry manuscript. It's certainly not complete. Some of the poems at the end haven't been edited, I haven't started putting them in order, and I didn't hit the page count I really wanted. But there's something there.

It's not what I expected. Don't get me wrong--I like what I've accomplished. I think I wrote some good pieces. The thing is, I understand the current trend in poetry. I know all the nuances of this particular style. I've read half a dozen authors who have been faithful to the trend. It consists a lot of focusing on the I, You, Me and We with an emphasis on removing all flowery language that often turns people away from poetry in the first place. It speaks like a conversation, and it ends with a full explanation. There's no way you come away from it without understanding the poet's intended meaning. It also mimics what a good haiku should be: focusing on the ordinary, but making it surprisingly extraordinary.

And none of this work fits that mold.



It made me want to chuck it all out the window, if only for a moment. I come from a background of being forced to read poets that made no sense, poets that seemed to have secret meanings behind every twist of phrase, dozens of super-archaic Shakespearean sonnets. That's what influences my work, and that means I have hidden meanings. I make obscure references. I play with metaphors and use all the colors in the crayon box. I'm in no way traditional, but there are hints of tradition in it. And that's not what the current market dictates. You would think a poet wouldn't concern themselves with market trends because poetry, overall, doesn't sell very well on its best day. But I've learned with both indie and traditional publishing, you're working with a ten percent effort on writing and a ninety percent effort on marketing if you want to be successful.

The issue I really have with the current trend is that the trend itself is being diluted with every new book that comes on the market. In my experience, Milk and Honey is the Holy Grail. It can do no wrong. It began the trend that you see. But those other poets, the ones who followed the trend? It doesn't quite hit the same notes when you read it. It doesn't contain the contemplative moments, and there's no sense of urgency when needed.

Because we live in a society where we can get whatever we want when we want, some of us don't want to put in the work to read poetry. Some of us don't want to have to work that hard to feel something. And this trend makes it easy to feel something without feeling stupid for not understand some deeper meaning. The meaning is on the surface, and it's not trying to hide behind anything. I don't write like that. The poets before me made me do the work, so I'm trying to hand down the same skill set to the next generation. I just don't think the next generation has the attention span for it.

I'll still polish it up and get it ready to send out into the world. It deserves that much.

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