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In today’s On the Square feature, former First Things fellow Gabriel Torretta asks, ” What’s Wrong With Poetry?

When I was young I reflexively told people I liked poetry. I hardly knew any poets and barely understood those I had read, but poetry seemed to be a necessary affectation for the burgeoning literary snob that I was. I read randomly: Blake and MacLeish, Poe and Dickinson, Whitman and Carroll. I memorized “The Tiger” because I had to, “The Raven” because I was bored in class, and Dickinson because I was bored while sneezing.

I stuck to the poets of previous centuries for the most part, although I was vaguely aware that poets were not an extinct species, that dark corners of the planet still held strange specimens who wrote without meter or rhyme about The Orgasm and the joys of life as a Maoist rebel in Punjab, but I gave them a wide berth for fear that I might catch something and lose my ability to write with capital letters.



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