I was going to write a poem
I made a pie instead it took
about the same amount of time
of course the pie was a final
draft a poem would have had some
distance to go days and weeks and
much crumpled paper
-from Grace Paley’s ‘The Poet’s Occasional Alternative’
Read the whole (and delicious) poem here.
"If a letter comes I will answer that letter
& my whole year will be tense with love.”
-John Berryman, Dream Song #279
I am cold & calm
as the untracked snows.
“And this,” said the publicist who’d been introducing us, “is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.” I registered a slight grimace on Mr. Muldoon’s end.
“A poet, huh?” Mr. Tyler said, walking closer to him. “You’re kidding.”
As if on cue, the lead singer of Aerosmith began reciting the opening stanza of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” He pointed at Mr. Muldoon to finish the line.
If formal verse can be likened to carving, free verse to modeling, then one might say that doggerel verse is like objet trouvés — the piece of driftwood that looks like a witch, the stone that has a profile. The writer of doggerel, as it were, takes any old words, rhythms and rhymes that come into his head, gives them a good shake and then throws them onto the page like dice where, lo and behold, contrary to all probability they make sense, not by law but by chance. Since the words appear to have no will of their own, but to be the puppets of chance, so will the things or persons to which they refer; hence the value of doggerel for a certain kind of satire.
I don’t even like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, ‘Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.’
This is just why Larkin is so attractive: he is smarter than we are and more widely read, and much, much funnier, yet fundamentally no better.