As I am too idle to walk all of the way
to my poetry bookshelves,
I shall have to paraphrase Keith Douglas instead:
What the critics fail to realise
is that bad poetry is not poetry at all,
although my agreement with this sentiment
depends on my mood.
And just now, I have read about
the ‘intolerable poetry’ of American poets
(excluding Billy Collins, presumably,
because he wrote the phrase).
Does intolerable poetry inhabit the same space
as bad poetry,
unable to traverse the circular border
which keeps them trapped in the poetry Venn diagram
demarcating the peculiar sub-genre: ‘not poetry’ poetry?
I think of other poemy things
which may share the space
of this odd circle.
Dadaist poetry, which is all very well in principle,
but only occasionally in practice?
An English sestina,
when it’s not written in blank verse,
an abomination borne, I suspect, of that heady mix
of sublime incompetence and infuriating laziness
perfected by so many of us
who claim the title ‘poet’?
Anything villanelle-related (as if that needed saying):
what the critics fail to remember
is that villanelles are not poetry at all?
It could be a never-ending list,
depending on your poetic beliefs:
‘modern’ poetry and imagist poetry
and rhyming poetry and free verse and
slam poetry and experimental poetry
and on and on and on
until we find ourselves saying,
‘all poetry is not poetry at all.’