It is very timely that during Mean Week, The Northville Review‘s Poetry for Poetry Haters issue has gone live. Northville editor Erin Fitzgerald interviewed the issue’s guest editor Whitney Freemesser who explains why she hates poetry.
Why do you hate poetry?
I don’t like frou-frou OH SO DEEP descriptions of things. If something is black, say it is black. Don’t say it’s inky jet ebony.
As people who received a rejection slip for this issue discovered, you do actually like some poetry. The example we gave out was Richard Brautigan’s At the California Institute of Technology. Can you talk a little bit about why you do like this poem, and maybe name some others?
I like it because it’s simple and not overwrought with emotion. We don’t have to listen to lines and lines of the same sentiment repeated thirteen different ways. As for other poems that I like, I like most of Brautigan’s work. Also, there’s a poetry anthology called “Pictures That Storm Inside My Head”, edited by Richard Peck. I like the title poem from that one, though I don’t remember who wrote it.
Do you think that eliminating repetitive and overwrought elements might be the key to getting people to actually like poetry?
Well, it would make ME like poetry a lot more. But I’m not the usual poetry audience. I don’t have the time/energy/patience to listen to it. It’s like listening to my son try to tell a story – it takes him a few tries to get started, so he’ll repeat the same phrase over and over – and I just want to yell “GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!” And then it’ll turn out to be something about Wii Sports Resort or Phineas and Ferb.