Was That a Real Poem …

… or Did You Just Make It up Yourself?


Robert Creeley – who lived from 1926 to 2005 and is shown in the weird photo above – wrote:

What is poetry? In a dictionary I’ve hauled around for almost as long as I’ve been writing (The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English, Fowler and Fowler, in a “New and Enlarged Edition revised by George Van Santvoord,” 1935), it says to my horror: “elevated expression of elevated thought or feeling, esp. in metrical form….” If I turn to a more recent dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969, I’m told that poetry is “the art or work of a poet,” which has got to be a cop-out. So all these years people have been screaming that one was not writing real poetry – and it turns out nobody, certainly no one in that crowd, knew what it was to begin with. No wonder they insisted on those forms! They wouldn’t know it was a woman unless she was wearing a dress.

From: Robert Creeley, Was That a Real Poem & other essays, edited by Donald Allen, Four Seasons Foundation, Bolinas, California, 1979

About James Steerforth

I am an author of poetry and fiction, translator and painter who loves to have fun with borrowed feathers.
This entry was posted in Creative writing, Literature, Poetry, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Was That a Real Poem …

  1. suburbanlife says:

    Good one, James. Thanks for yet another book I ought to read before I die also for the thorough information you provided to aid in ordering up the book from the library here. Must get onto ordering it before my need for large-print publications arises, for, unfortunately, such books seem never to be printed in large type! 🙂

  2. This one might just do – it’s medium type, and I’m still OK reading it without glasses.

    I wouldn’t call this an absolute must read, though, more a mixed bag.

    From the whole collection I liked the essay best that this quote is from.

  3. suburbanlife says:

    Thanks for the heads up. Of course, reading a collection of essays is like eating a bag of multi-coloured jellybeans, one must eat every colour to find their favourite one. And I like jellybeans.

  4. Pingback: Who is the Scribbler? | WritingCabin.com

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