Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
Send GK Your Question »
Poetry and the Fairer Sex
September 27, 2011 |
Dear Mr. Keillor,
I attended your talk at the National Book Festival in Washington Sunday, at which you said "The only good reason to write a poem is to impress a woman." While I totally agree that this may be a good reason for a man to write a poem, can you tell me the "good reason" for the beautiful poetry written by the fairer sex? Perhaps the reason I cannot muster a halfway decent attempt at poetry is because this reason evades me.
Poets tend to claim very high motives for themselves, Sara, as you know if you ever read interviews with poets. It's a religious passion that moves them, a mysterious restless urge that comes upon them and won't go away, an electrical current in their souls, a powerful twitch ----- really, it's God blowing in their ears. They claim powerful mysterious motivation to cheer themselves up, knowing that nobody much cares about their poetry. Maybe, if they're in the Top 40 Living Poets, a teacher will make her students read their work, but otherwise nada. Maybe an independent bookstore will stock their books, but not many people wander over to the poetry section, and most who do don't stay long. It's discouraging. What I meant by what I said is simply: I don't want to write a poem that will go unread, and one reader is enough, so I'll write to that one, and if I can impress her ---- she who knows me much too well already ---- then this is not a bad poem at all. And there's no point to writing a bad poem. There are enough of those already.