Monday, 5 November 2012

The great American poem

Can there be such a thing?

The idea has haunted me since seeing Henry Fool, the 1997 Hal Hartley film.

As Simon begins an ascent to the dizzying heights of Nobel Prize-winning poet, Henry sinks to a life of drinking in low-life bars as his own attempts at fame result in rejection, even by Simon's publisher who once employed Henry.


I particularly like the fact that the great American poem comes hand in hand with great American success. (And the film also has plenty to say about the arbitrariness of publication - amongst other things.)

What is your great [insert your nationality here] poem?

1 comment:

  1. I have often been asked what separates a good poem from a great one. My answer is somewhat simple, “A good poem is one which the reader remembers five minutes after they have read it. A reader can read a great poem only once and carry part of it with them for a lifetime.” I have written many poems and published four books in the last ten years.
    The title of the first book also is its first poem, something I carried across all four. This is a poem I want to share here ---

    A Poet's Last Stand

    Be not so quick
    To announce our death
    Set aside your shovel and your spade
    There will be no burial here
    Not as long as these lips have words to form
    Or there are tales to be spun
    From these withered hands
    Yes, we have been quiet
    Overwhelmed by today’s clutter
    You live too fast
    We speak
    But you have no time to hear
    You can not get culture
    At your drive-through windows
    Nor can we simply dish it out
    For you to scan at will
    Ours are words with meaning
    They are to be savored for their value
    They refuse to be simply devoured
    Without leaving some taste behind
    Please stop for just a moment
    I promise to attempt to entertain you
    Maybe it won’t hurt as much as you fear
    You will not leave here untouched
    For if I fail I will simply lie back
    And let you cover my memory
    To go about your life
    As you began
    In darkness

    Poetry is not dead
    As long as a single soul survives

    Ed Roberts 5/14/91

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