Okay, time for something slightly different today. We’re going to allow ourselves to be derivative for a moment — but in a good way.
Have you ever composed a poem in the style of someone else’s? Or have you ever composed a poem in response to someone else’s social media post? Have you ever done both of those at the same time because it was funny?
A while back, my friend Brian posted on Le Book of Face that he shouldn’t be allowed to buy pears anymore because they just rot in his fridge.
Even though they weren’t plums (it was February), obviously, what is that post of his going to make me think of? William Carlos Williams. OF COURSE. What else?
So I commented with the following, which made me laugh even if no one else did.
Poem for Brian
This is just to say
I have wasted the pears
that you bought
and which you probably hoped
I would find delicious.
They were so ripe,
so bulbous and charming,
and I let them rot.
I don’t deserve them.
I should eat nothing but
lima beans and kale for a week.
Clearly this poem is Not High Art. It’s not even really art at all. But it was quick and amusing (to a small audience) and helped my sleepy morning brain make connections that did matter.
I think sometimes we can use poetry in this way. Too often I see students feel intimidated by poetry, as if it doesn’t count if it isn’t brilliant. And poetry has become something of a niche market in our culture, at least as compared to some others. I don’t want poetry to be that way, though. The more esoteric it gets, the less it matters. In an effort to counteract that, I think everyone should try to write a poem for no particularly inspired reason now and then.
And if people do it enough, I really believe that eventually, genuinely good poetry will start coming out of them.
So right now I’m offering you a challenge. Go find a friend’s social media post, and then write a quick poem in response. Then post it here in the comments. You don’t even have to include the post which made you think of it. In fact, maybe that’s better. Don’t think too hard about it, and don’t be afraid to be derivative. (Just let us know whom you’re riffing off of when you post.)