Judge Santiago Burdon

Bad Poetry is Bad Poetry 

“I just can’t figure it out,” she moaned. “No one seems to be reading my poems. I post them in my writing groups and even on the rest of those bullshit social media sites. I’m not getting any comments or likes.” She

“Wish I had an answer for you.”

“I’ve been thinking I should change the font of my poems. Maybe print them in a classical style format. I know, then post them over an image of a scene that captures the poems’ themes. What do you think?”

“My opinion isn’t important. I’m not at all familiar with how to present a piece of literature. Marketing is a mystery to me. I have no taste. People think I suffer from ageusia.

It was my poor excuse for not wanting to give her the actual reason.

“Why won’t you answer my question? I would really appreciate your professional critique. I’m trying to reach a larger audience and I believe the reason for my poor readership is the way my poems are presented. If I make them more attractive by adding a few features to capture their attention, I will become more popular and recognized. Don’t you believe it’s true? Tell me what you think.”

“My professional opinion? I’m not sure I can be categorized as a professional. Okay, if you want my take on your conundrum I’ll offer my honest assessment. And please don’t get all defensive and uptight and shit. Don’t take it as a personal attack.”

“Of course not. I know you’ll be honest. Why are you going to put me down?”

“I’m going to offer my opinion.”

“Okay, tell me.”

“I think you’re way off course. You’re not seeing where the actual problem lies. The early classic poets didn’t have social media and marketing tools available to dress up their work. Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and the Beat Poets as well, their poems became favored because of the content. The poem stood as a great piece of literature solely on the words alone. What is your reason for writing a poem?”

“I’m not really sure. I guess because it is something that is easy for me to do. Plus I think I can become famous and wealthy for my poems.”

“Your purpose for writing a poem is insincere. If your intention is to use it as a tool to attempt to win a popularity contest, receive sympathy, praise or become famous and shit like that, then you’ve missed what the purpose of poetry is about.”

“What, you don’t think I’m a real poet?”

“I think anyone that creates a poem is a poet. But not every poet is talented. Some just produce ‘bad poetry’ pablum, doggerel, drivel or pure shit.”

“So you think my poetry is shit?”

“Your poetry is always about you. About your thoughts, desires and dreams. You believe your experiences, your emotions and your opinions are as important to everyone else as they are to you. ‘Just because it happened to you doesn’t make it interesting’. You’re so depressed, so misunderstood. What I interpret from the poem is that it’s a pathetic cry for attention and sympathy. Then there’s the sappy, cheesy love poems filled with grammar school rhymes and overused phrases. Love and dove or above, home and roam. When’s the last time you roamed? Pure shit. How can anyone not see their poems as mediocre or ordinary? You’ve spent more time thinking about and planning the its presentation than the 10 minutes you spent creating the poem itself. And then you use cliches and idioms that were created by someone else and have been overused, worn out. Have you ever considered the fact you may just be a shitty poet? And as far as your ideas to gain attention, when I see a poem overlayed on a picture with fancy, hard-to-read fonts in some jumbled format, I don’t even take the time to read the title. I think if it takes all of that bullshit to giftwrap the poem, its content can’t possibly be worthwhile. Then people wonder why their poem has been rejected by every magazine they’ve sent it to.”

“You don’t have to be so mean. I just asked for help, not your degradation. Ya know what, fuck you. Your opinion doesn’t make you right.”

“That’s correct, I never claimed to be right. I said I would give you my honest opinion.”

“No sex for you until, when? Maybe forever.”

“If that’s the case I may as well add one other point. I see it so often that a poem with a creative theme turns into a mumbling, stuttering piece of rhymed words, completely losing the poem’s original theme. The emotions become secondary to a line or verse written to appease the rhyme. What’s left is that the feel becomes lost in a mixture of tangled words.”

“What makes you Mr. Know it All, huh? I don’t see your books on the bestseller list or your poems being quoted. Just who do you think you are?”

“Guess I shouldn’t have said anything like the hundreds of others that don’t read or comment on your poetry. Now here you are reacting exactly like everyone that doesn’t receive flattering comments. You said you wouldn’t become defensive. You believe everyone should shower you with praise. Do you know what else I see as a problem? There’s this undeserving praise or kudos given to someone who obviously has no talent for writing. They post their poetry and it receives a false positive response. What people are doing with their bullshit comments of approval is giving the person an unrealistic assessment of their writing. An untruthful evaluation of their poem or talent is a cruel act. False encouragement will backfire on them sometime. It’s considered being nice, but I’d rather have an honest critique of my writing, positive or not, instead of bullshit. I don’t need anyone to be nice, I prefer the truth. 

“You hurt my feelings. I thought you would give me advice, not belittle me. You don’t know what being nice is.”

“Please, whatever you do, don’t write a poem about it, trust me. I’m sorry if you’re upset but it’s just the way I see things. Ya know what, didn’t you take some painting classes a couple years back? Maybe you should take a shot at being an artist instead.”

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