Parodies Lost

Why are poets expected to be sad-faced? This question begins my story-poem: “He knew--from a picture of Rod McKuen-- of all his race, the poet makes the saddest face. And next to a hound, the saddest sound.” Maybe when the dog is not a hound, he’ll write happier. Our dog-poet is an English Sheepdog named Wordsworth, pet of the central character Onagain, who is a brilliant parodist like my great college friend who left us young. The story features many bit parts--homeless Eddy, writing novels from his car, realtor-poets naming streets, a fly-fishing old pervert, a secretarial professor, and a schoolboy who falls in love with his teacher Miss Paris. The boy writes some verse, and his poet’s mind grows. Getting back to the saddest face, why do modern poets write about themselves? Surely poets live among the dullest lives. Centuries ago poets wrote little about themselves: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Moliere, Plautus, Ovid, Martial. My favorites. Even the Beatles wrote about others in Sergeant Pepper’s. So I began parodying the Me-Me-Me (sing it) of poets like Ashbery, Angelou, Wilbur, Dylan Thomas, even the greatest, Dickinson , along with rappers and Country Western singers: “I’m only a laborer In the Factory of Love.” Commonly we see a parade of poets more interested in themselves than Chaucer was, or than any novel reader can be. Parodies Lost makes fun of this. We expect modern poets to confine themselves to their own psyches, even avoid the wit and humor that sustained poetry for centuries. But the poem ends in a revolt. Its tone changes, I could not suppress the uprising of my own poem. My debts: Archibald MacLeish taught both me and my brilliant friend, featured here as Onagain. I rode the bus at the University of Minnesota with John Berryman, a neighbor. He did not know me, but he wrote a story poem I came to admire, as I did Pushkin’s Onegin based partly on Byron.
ISBN: 9781786975126
Type: Paperback
Pages: 104
Published: 2 December 2016
Price: $10.25

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