Tuesday, September 15, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (20)

Dear No One,

Jark has discovered a writing contest for prisoners. I am enthused. They have categories for poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and drama. Naturally, we have things in cache for these kinds of eventualities. I called up my mammy and asked her to dig out this essay I wrote for a Creative Non-Fiction entry a year or so ago as well as a short story that I never knew what to do with. Hard to find a niche for "Mel Works for Satan."
The poetry portion has been the most fun. I've scoured my notebook for the most likely candidates. I write exclusively metered verse, that is to say, not free. Whenever I flip through a New Yorker I grind my teeth a little. If you write a pretty prose paragraph, don't feel compelled to press enter at random intervals and call the result a poem. There are a limited number of rhymes in the English language, this I know. Not everything should rhyme, especially longer works. Meter is indispensable. It doesn't have to be iambs, but it has to be something. Poetry is one of those very loosely defined words. I won't say that free verse isn't poetry. I will say that is it poetry's lowest form. Absolutely anything you can say in a free verse poem can be said more powerfully in a legitimate form, if you're willing to put the work in.
Poe said poetry shouldn't mean anything, it should exist for its own sake, an exercise in loveliness. I agree that poems shouldn't have to communicate anything in particular, however, it is quite nice when they do. There are complaints that most rhyming poetry is terrible, doggerel, etc. I agree. I would say the same thing about most forms of art, certainly movies and books and non-rhyming poetry. Extraordinary things are, by definition, unlikely. For every Raven there is a whole drift of pieces whose names I don't recall. By my count, Edgar Allen Poe has four amazing poems and the rest is dross. And that's okay. If he hadn't written the bad stuff, because it was bad, he would never have gotten around to writing the amazing things. If you don't write rhyming poetry because rhyming poetry is silly or cheap, then you are a person who will never write a good or moving rhyming poem.
That is all.
William Myrl (20)

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