Over the past few days, poet Thomas Sayers Ellis has posted Ten Rules for Changing the Game of Poetry to his Facebook profile. (The full list can be found here .)
Elliss ten rules actually reveal a lot about the state of poetry today. Apparently its necessary to tell poets things like: Dont Publish for Publications Sake and A book of poetry is not a novel. (Though First Things readers know otherwise!)
He does say some good things (like: Young poets should practice integrity when acquiring blurbs), but the list also contains a lot of poststructuralist mumbo-jumbo and downright silliness, like: Every Time Writing Tries to Write You, Re-write It or Revise You.
Anyway, Im not a poet, just a poor, parasitical critic, but Elliss list seems less like rules for changing the game and more like asking for overtime. So heres my humble alternative. I couldnt come up with ten, just seven, and I havent put them in my Facebook status or Twitter feed. Hopefully that wont make them too uninteresting:
1. Dont quote Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin or Chinese poets. If you dont have anything interesting to say, dont name people who do.
2. Dont complain that no one reads poetry anymore. After all, whose fault is that?
3. Dont write about the moral baselessness of going to war or genocide unless you have first asked yourself whether or not your interest in these events is motivated by your own subconscious fear of pain, death, or loss of freedom.
4. If your poems sound like pasted snippets of Jacques Derrida or Flavor Flav, you are legion.
5. Dont write poems that are indeterminate for indeterminacys sake.
(I know Marjorie Perloff has a good heart and all, but I really wish she hadnt written that book on Rimbaud. It was like giving a suicidal monk a match.)
6. If you think language is writing you, its probably not.
7. Send your mother flowers on her birthday. Youre not Pan, and shes not Medusa, no matter how much she drank when you were growing up.
Any others our readers would care to add?