Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rules for Poetry Radicals

(with apologies to Saul Alinsky)

Rule #1: Poetry is not only what you have, but what people from other schools of poetry think you have.

Rule #2. Never go outside the expertise of your own poetry people.

Rule #3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of your poetry enemies. Look for ways to increase their insecurity, anxiety, and uncertainty, e.g., on blogs, Facebook, Twitter.

Rule #4. Make your poetry enemies live up to their own book of rules. You can score points over them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than all that glisters can possibly be gold.

Rule #5. Ridicule is a poetry blogger's or comment box inhabitant’s most potent weapon.

Rule #6. A good style is one that your own poetry people enjoy.

Rule #7. A poetry horse that you flog too long becomes a dead poetry horse.

Rule #8. Keep writing poems.  Never let them think you've quit like, say, Empson or Chatterton.

Rule #9. The internet is usually more terrifying than poetry itself.

Rule #10. If you dislike a kind of poetry long enough, it will push through and become a kind of poetry you grudgingly admire... or even like a whole bunch.

Rule #11. The price of a negative review is a constructive alternative.  Sorry.

Rule #12. Pick your poetry target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. One acts decisively only in the conviction that posterity is on one's side - and that the dustbin of poetry history awaits the other side.

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