January 25th, 2012 / 10:11 pm

Sometimes I feel like Poetry wants to kill me. Not in a malicious way, but in an ambivalent way. Like it wants to siphon my life off, little by little, until there’s none left. Sorry, I guess that’s not a question.


  1. Trey

      I think it does, but I’m willing to let it. I’d let it kill me faster if I could

  2. Anonymous

      I like your attitude, Trey. Could you explain more? Esp regarding why you’re “willing to let it” and what it means to have poetry kill you faster.

      Also, are you Trey Moody?

  3. Melissa Broder

      I feel that way about envy, ambition, fantasy, nicorette, hunger, vanity and litblogs.

  4. Trey

      not Trey Moody. I wish!

      I guess I’m willing to let it because, I don’t know. maybe I can’t explain. like I don’t know what you mean when you say you feel like it’s killing you, but I feel that way when I read a poem I think is very good. I feel like a very good poem takes something away from me, rather than gives me something (and I feel a little the same way about writing them, I think) (and I think this is opposite to the way a lot of people I know feel). I think there have been a couple of discussions here (at HTMLG) about the tendency to use things like “it destroyed me”, “it took the top of my head off”, “it punched me in the face repeatedly and then spit in my mouth” as compliments, and I guess some people don’t think those are things that should be said about something that is good (or that they’re somehow problematic, like inserting some sort of rhetoric of violence that doesn’t belong). but I think it’s accurate, at least for the way I experience poems I like. I mean I think poetry is kind of like violence, for the reasons I’ve just laid out, so adding a rhetoric of violence to praise is fine.

      an alternate thing is that I always feel weird and (in a sort of inexplicable way) like I’m coming apart when I think about any poetry, or think about “poetry theory” or something (like reading essays on poetics or whatever), which is much vaguer but probably closer to what I really mean and think about when I think about poetry killing me. I like the feeling of coming apart. I wouldn’t want to put too fine a point on it, but something like: coming apart is better than staying the same, and the more apart I can become the better.

      I think if poetry were killing me faster I would be seeing better poetry and be learning more about poetry, and also I would be dead sooner, which in some ways is bad, but not that bad.

      I have probably succeeded in changing your opinion of my attitude. I think it was probably more striking or impressive when it was the more vague and cryptic first comment rather than me trying to explain it and not really knowing what I mean. Sorry Ben!

      also as a sort of PS, and in a more literal sense, if I could actually transfer some or all of my vitality to the institution of poetry, that would probably be a better use of my vitality than anything I’m doing (e.g. eating pizza on the couch, drinking cream soda or beer or whatever else, commenting on the internet, etc.)

  5. Katie Smither

      It’s not poetry.  It’s anything we invest ourselves in.  I bet accountants say the same thing to themselves after a day spent accounting.  Like Trey said, “like i’m coming apart.”  The way a stomach feels feasted on Thanksgiving.  I feel that way about amazing songs I listen to relentlessly until I’m nauseous, but I’m still infatuated with them in an aggressive loathing way.  Similar to that point in the relationship when you’re so in love you know it’s not healthy but it seems to define who you are in a new way and you like it.  It’s not the poetry; it’s the human.  Which is dangerous ya know; big things entering and exiting the same body.  Not that I really disagree with anything above; I’m just tired of art being romanticized.  In ways.

  6. Katie Smither

      *doctors or something might be a better choice over accountants 

  7. Anonymous

      i’m tired of art being de-romanticized. i mean that, not trying to be snippy. everyone seems uncomfortable with romanticizing art, like it should be brought to earth, made realistic, like accountants and doctors. which is fine but it’s also beautiful and scary and powerful and very mysterious. Romantic.

  8. Anonymous

      No need to apologize. I like both your comments, Trey. I didn’t have a specific type of response in mind when I posted the snippet, so I guess I was being vague and cryptic, too.

      I think what you said about coming apart is rad. Also, this is brilliant: “I think poetry is kind of like violence, for the
      reasons I’ve just laid out, so adding a rhetoric of violence to praise
      is fine.”

  9. Anonymous

      …cats, bagels, , the New York Times, humidifiers, larger humans, Jimmy Chen, salad,…

  10. Anonymous

      Romanticizing poetry and de-romanticizing it both seem like valid positions. I fluctuate between feeling overwhelmed and
      taken apart by Poetry and feeling like poetry is totally banal,

  11. alex crowley

      my guitar wants to kill yr mama

  12. William VanDenBerg

      I would love to read a story about over-romanticizing accounting.

  13. Katie Smither

      I totally agree, romanticizing and de-romanticizing.  I feel that to give Poetry (noted capitalization) as much cred as its given in the first statements is asking for larger perspective, in terms of how art is situated into the entire world or human experience.  As an artist, I think it’s dangerous to believe your existence more violent, valuable, or vexed than another human’s.  But yes, I also believe poetry (aloof non-capitalization mentality) is also in need of new perspectives.  That art is specific, Poetry is specific, has a specific power, purpose, mythology, grandeur and ability.  
      There is friction between Art/Poetry/or something so kindof idea-misty and the specificity of our body or our mind.  That explains the need to go back and forth.

  14. Katie Smither
  15. Katie Smither
  16. Cremistress

      hey gies. i just read this book that took a dump on me, killed my first-born, and gave me aids. im in love.

  17. Anonymous

      what book?

  18. Cremistress

      oh ben, there is no book – just saw this this morning and felt an overwhelming urge to call poppycock. fair ‘nuf?

  19. Trey

      if you’re talking about what I said a while back, I don’t think “gave me aids” operates the same as the other things at all, because I don’t think that people, at least in our society, think of giving or contracting aids as a violent act to be perpetrated on another person. I mean at best it would be insensitive for a reviewer to say that.

      on the other hand, the other two would almost definitely fly. I think “took a dump” would have to be qualified somehow, like “took an emotional dump on my heart” or something, but I could see it happening. and, although without any evidence, I’m practically certain that someone, somewhere has used “killed my first-born” as a compliment for a book. it’s sort of like the opposite of that line from Mulan: “I’m gonna punch you so hard it’ll make your ancestors dizzy” (or something like that)

      this whole comment is made in a light-hearted and humorous spirit. I realized that wasn’t coming across after I wrote it.

  20. Cremistress

      come on Trey, we all know that literature is a disease that we want to be infected with.

  21. Cremistress

      the fact that you didn’t know it was sarcasm is a kind of reality, no?

  22. Anonymous

      seems clear all your comments are dripping with sarcasm

      I thought your comment was funny and then I wanted to know if there was an actual book because I was interested in what you said beyond its value as a half-baked blog comment

      your second comment was condescending and I felt shat on for being sincere

      seems like the reality of our interaction is pointless bullshit, let’s just end it and do something else

  23. Cremistress

      My second comment wasn’t [meant to be] condescending. I wasn’t sure if you knew I was being completely sarcastic, and was sincerely trying to let you know without being a total asshole. Your comment that followed was pretty dickish, and I responded in kind. 

      My point was to satirize the lit-crit hyperbole of the day. Not you – everyone.

      Glad you thought it was funny (until there was no actual book…), apologies if I’ve ruined 5 minutes of your day…