January 24, 2013
Blanco’s poem is simply, crassly, stupendously, awful. I’d like to count the ways, but the wretched few hundred words I am allotted here at Taki’s Magazine cannot do justice to the sheer toe-curling badness of this “poem.” Just a few:
It’s free verse. I have in the past tried to be tolerant toward free verse. There are, after all, a handful of striking, memorable examples. Tolerance wanes with age, though, and I am now ready to say that 99.9 percent of free verse is worthless crap. Blanco’s “poem” is not one of the exceptions. Perhaps he believes, like the Beat poets, that rhyme and scansion are “fascist.” Or perhaps he just thinks they are fussy, restrictive, and, er, anal.
And then, Blanco’s grasp of grammar and vocabulary seems to be shaky.
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming
We keep dreaming an English sentence? I don’t think I ever have.
every head of wheat sown by sweat
I’ll take correction here, never having had much work experience in the agricultural sector, but I do not believe that anybody, in the entire history of the human race, ever sowed a head of wheat, by sweat or any other agent.
hands gleaning coal
Back in the Depression, George Orwell observed men picking usable coal out of slag heaps, and I think “gleaning” could fairly be the right verb there. I doubt anyone has done this in the USA for several decades, though.
or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm
Eh? How do deserts and hilltops keep us warm? And shouldn’t there be an “on” before “hilltops”?
Et cetera, et cetera, et godawful cetera. What a heap of dog poop!
In Chapter 43 of my book Fire from the Sun, an English college hosts a company of young opera singers drawn from around the world. The college principal composes a poem of welcome. I tried hard to make the thing as obviously bad as possible. Thus:
One World, One Song
New voices for peace resound
Dimming the throb of war,
The shrill screech of greed.
From forest and savannah,
From sand-fringed isle and mountain perch,
All races, all colors, coruscating”
A community of voices.
The kaleidoscope swirls.
Strange new patterns appear.
New voices for a new world of hope”
Voices raised for peace
In multicultural harmony.
I seriously doubt, however, that a nation raised on the formless narcissistic gibberish of “poets” such as Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander, or Richard Blanco would think this bad at all. Heck, on the basis of this poem I could be tapped for the 2017 inauguration! I can be reached in care of Taki’s Magazine.