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Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

"Butterfly With Parachute" by Stephen Burt -- Poetry Daily, 3/29/13

from Boston Review (Mar/Apr 2013)
poem found here

First lines:
A real one wouldn't need one,
but the one Nathan draws surely does:


line breaks

— note added 6/2/13
— reformatted 4/23/14


Straight to the point: lins 5 & 6 of the second stanza.

What possible defense for that line break can there possibly be? To be blunt, it is an atrociously bad line break. One could not create a clumsier poetic aberration: and I am not talking out of some Salon-esque 'rules of poetry,' but, simply, about how poetry is read by a sophisticated mind. These lines are astoundingly bad. So bad, if a friend of mine tried to defend it I would have had to beat them over the head. So bad, that if an acquaintance poet had brought it to me for consideration, I would have mocked them until they changed it. It is so bad that if I was on whatever editorial committee oversaw poem selection for the Boston Review, I would seriously be considering quitting. Because if such is the quality of their editorial decisions, I would want nothing more to do with that rag.

This is the only justification for this that I can find that might be offered for the lines: "Well, isn't it clever how the the line breaks isolate 'of the real'?"

NO. It is NOT. It is daft. It is shallow. It is making a desicion about a poem with utter disregard for how that decision effects the rest of the poem. The line break creates an unbelievably huge stumbling block in breaking "real world" in two. Also, in the short sidedness of giving spotlight to "in the real," there was also created the god-awful line "world only slowly." And if you can't see that — and I mean by "you" that editorial committee — then go back and read Tennyson, Donne, and Yeats, Housman, Pound, Eliot, H.D., anybody non-contemporary until you can see why. I am embarassed for you that this made print. Those lines a so bad.

(And it's not like this poem has anything else in it that might make that poetic atrocity forgivable. It's a goddam, sentimental, dead puppy poem. It's a Hallmark card. Nothing more. Only, Hallmark pays more attention.)


Note added long after the fact: Oi, must I have been in a mood when I wrote this one. Not backing down on the line break: it is terrible. The poem itself not very good. I would love to hear the editor of Boston Review justify their printing of this poem. But, I will admit, there is way too much anger here. Only defense: some days, bad poetry can really piss me off. (6/2/2013)

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