I’m sure both of these fine poets didn’t really intend their words to set up an article about how the pursuit of poetry is okay, despite it all. But so it goes — even when we are lauded, we’re insulted. Who am I to talk? It’s our bread and butter around here when we’re in our ninja costumes.
When we celebrate National Poetry Month each April, we’re tipping our hats not only to the art form, but to the poets themselves, who perform the thankless task of writing what few read and fewer still understand. It takes a very particular kind of masochism to engage in this pursuit, which brings the practitioner neither glory nor income and is derided even, occasionally, by poets themselves.
“Poetry is – with good reason – easy to make fun of,” says Toronto-based poet Ken Babstock, one of the nominees for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize. (The prize, awarded yearly, offers $100,000 to be split between one Canadian poet and one international poet.)
“Poetry is often the last resort for a lot of losers,” adds avant-garde poet Christian Bök, Canadian winner of the 2002 Griffin Prize. “Confessing you’re a poet never gets you laid.”
Okay, let me have a crack at it, too: “Poetry is the bastard lovechild of The Ego’s premature ejaculation in Leisure Time.” Nah, I’m not quite buying it…. today.