Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pornographic Poetry?

I thought this was fitting for National Poetry Month, in America, where sometimes you can’t even give poetry away, as people seem so repulsed by it. Eric Selinger (via an epigraph of Emily Lloyd's) at WomPo, takes Marrianne Moore’s famous poem, and uses a universal Search & Replace of “poetry” with “pornography” (sorry I don't remember how to keep the formatting of the lines intact when posting). It's interesting to see what happens:


I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
wolf under
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician--
nor is it valid
to discriminate against "business documents and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make
a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half pornographers, the
result is not pornography,
nor till the pornographers among us can be
"literalists of
the imagination"--above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of pornography in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in pornography.


the machinist said...

peter--throw me an e-mail at and I'll send that poem your way if you still want to take a look

David Koehn said...

Love it!!

I get such a kick out of this kind of schtick. A bit rude, a little bit of sacrosanct. But funny as hell!