It’s too easy to write an off-the-cuff comment online. It’s fast, also – and perhaps this is the reason why so many people unadvisedly, and unthinkingly type something out and hit ‘send’, or ‘submit’ without cogitating a bit first.
But it should take time and thought to write poetry. It certainly takes a great deal of time and thought to write good poetry.
Sometimes, though, people put even less effort into writing poetry than they do into online comments. Or at least, it seems as though they do. But perhaps they just aren’t very good at writing poetry.
Today is a marvellous day.
It’s marvellous for lots of reasons, but for two above all: I got my first bit of hate-commentary (‘i can’t tell who is a bigger douche, you or the person you’re writing about’). I’ve been waiting for my first bit of hate-commentary for a while. But what really makes me excited is the second reason: my hate-commentator writes poetry.
Oh… this is going to be fun.
Let’s have a look at Derek Calavera’s latest (he of the ‘i don’t know who is…’): it’s called ‘Cinnamon’. Roll the tape:
pit fire, morocco
ash bark, incense,
heart of Osiris.
A synonym is a word that is ‘identical and co-extensive in sense and usage with another of the same language’. Are all the words in this poem ‘identical and co-extensive in sense and usage’ with cinnamon? Or did the poet fail to look at a dictionary first?
Still, the second line starts quite well, doesn’t it? Two aggressive trochees (the poet might want to look that term up: I doubt that he knows it) that grab the attention.
And ‘piquant’ is even apposite, since it means ‘agreeably sharp, pungent, appetizing’. Nice work.
Now then: ‘spit powder/pit fire, morocco/cocoa’.
Is this a reference to the undergraduate undertaking which involves trying to eat a teaspoon-full of cinnamon? In which case, again, it starts quite well. People do tend to spit when trying to ingest a large quantity of cinnamon. Often, they vomit quite spectacularly. Under these circumstances it’s not hard to guess what ‘pit fire’ refers to either. But ‘morocco/cocoa’ (Morocco is a country, and therefore a proper noun, and therefore needs a capital letter: again, let us hope the poet is taking notes) – what does that mean? Cocoa from Morocco?
Cinnamon (to return to the alleged subject of the poem) isn’t even grown in Morocco. It was first native to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), whence its name is derived. So either this poem has become an utterly unfettered exercise in word association (undertaken by a dyslexic), or it means nothing at all. Or, it’s a combination of both.
Word association is a fun game: it can lead to hilarious results and it’s good for word-power. But when any association disappears from the exercise, you’re left with Hamlet’s ‘Words, words, words’. Which is to say, you’re left with not much at all.
One can see how ‘morocco/cocoa’ come together: through consonance (again, the poet might want to look that word up, he’s certain not to know it either). Still no meaning, though.
No capital letter for ‘jamaica’, but that fails to surprise by this point, and probably a sad reference to smoking weed covers the ‘cough-cough-cough’ before ‘coffee’ – although consonance once again plays a part in connecting these disparate elements. The weed element is confirmed by ‘hashish’, which in turn inspires ‘narghile’ (a hookah, or water pipe), but by now the drugs aren’t only a theme, they seem to be in the driver’s seat.
And then we’re off to Egypt.
And we end with ‘heart of Osiris.’ We even get a full stop. That’s a rare honour, from this poet. I quite like the phrase ‘heart of Osiris’: it seems pregnant with meaning, even though Mr Calavera won’t stoop to act as a midwife for it.
Oh, and does the poet know that the only bit of Osiris that Isis couldn’t find after he was torn into fourteen pieces by Set was his cock?
Freudian slip, Mr Calavera?
Or are you hinting at something?
What do we have, in the end?
A list. Not a poem. A list of words so ineffectually cobbled together that you wouldn’t put it on your fridge if your five year-old child came home with it from school.
You can read the whole of ‘Cinnamon’ in a breath, and the rhythm is unlikely to trip you up. That (at least) works in its favour.
But in the end, it’s not even a tale. It certainly was told by an idiot, however: it’s full of sound and fury, and it signifies nothing.
I think the key to Mr Calavera’s poem is contained within his neat little comment: ‘i can’t tell who is a bigger douche, you or the person you’re writing about’.
No capital letter at the start, no full-stop at the end, no apparent care for how a sentence in English should be put together, and nothing that indicates the slightest interaction with what he commented on.
Funny: almost all of those comments could be made about his poetry.