Submerged in Suck

Did you ever feel, as someone interested in Poetry (a dozen readers  just headed for the door, careful on your way out, guys—) you were alone, or at least in a beleaguered minority, upon surveying the landscape of contemporary poetics and wondering why it SUCKS so much? Have you ever thought that poetry is utterly useless— and yet you persist in your love of lyrics and old-school versification? Do you sigh, and stifle suppressed rage upon reading those effete little poem-scrawlings in the margins of well-known Old-Media magazines and reviews? Do you struggle to comprehend how on earth Billy Collins and Rupi Kaur have become so well-known?

Are you haunted by ghosts of English teachers and textbooks that have hammered into your skull trite ideas like:

  • say it in a new and startling way
  • use descriptive language
  • paint a picture with words of something that is special to you
  • break rules of punctuation and scrawl freely
  • let stream-of-consciousness free-association be your only guide

Ideas such as these are great for elementary school; but extended onward and upward to adulthood, filtered through the silliness of advanced degree programs and abstruse chapbooks (read by 17 people who are all department heads), the result is massive SUCK.

By Suck, I mean, more specifically:

  • incoherent modernist free verse
  • intentionally cryptic obscurantism
  • Marxist drivel
  • lame attempts at Dadaism
  • wry and irrelevant observations
  • self-centered confessionals
  • strident (and/or boring) appeals to identity-politics

If you ever languished in such dismal swamps as these,


What a relief, dragging oneself through the stinking sludge, to stumble upon a mud-crusted crate, kick it open—and be blinded by the blazing rays of Dan Schneider’s brilliance. Over the next few days, I shall be posting some pearls I found in the Cosmoetica treasure chest.


6 comments on “Submerged in Suck

  1. This was great. I enjoyed reading it. I would much rather just drown myself in the dismal swamp then be forced to endure strident appeals to identity politics or gag inducing social justice slam poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this post. Refreshing. I like the beginning paragraph most of all, especially the part about people leaving as soon as you mention poetry. I don’t know why I like poetry so much, always have. It seems strange to me that people can love music but think poetry is too stuffy or too ridiculous when they are essentially the same thing….just poems set to sound.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have nothing against modern lyrics, but I have something against lack of care and quality (in all things, really). It appears to me that many poetry collections published these days are published not because the poetry is at least decent, but because the person who wrote it is popular and has x-million followers. It’s the only way I can explain why Gabbie Hannah was allowed us grace us with a collection called “Adultolescence” (kid you not), which includes gems like “Concealer”: I wear makeup because I have acne. / I have acne because I wear makeup.” (I wish I was kidding). I think it has to do with how our culture has become so focused on quick fixes and short attention spans — it’s everywhere. Ugh. End of rants.

    Liked by 1 person

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