Friday, May 2, 2014

Is James Franco a Good Poet

In sports the debate is whether the most difficult task is to hit a golf ball or a baseball. Both are difficult to be sure. There's no real debate in literature what is the most difficult to write, but I'd have to think writing an immortal poem is probably the hardest task of all. Many great athletes have tried to play golf and been humbled, and many great writers have tried their hand at poetry and experienced similar results. In all of human experience I'd assert few things are harder to do well than poetry. 

And I like that.

I've been a poet for over 25 years. I have written a few good poems. But I don't know that I'll ever write a great poem. A poem one could insert in a college text book and not have it be picked apart. I'm actually comfortable in the knowing that I may not ever write that poem. I don't think anyone writes for that reason. You write because you have to. The chips fall where they fall.  

The Suit

I am facing the growing possibility
That I will never own a suit in this lifetime
That if I do own a suit it will not
Be tailored to my proportions
But will have been made to fit another man
An important man long gone
I will wear your suit proudly
And I promise to never have it altered
To fit my dimensions
I will look in the pocket to see
If you have left me any instructions. 

I start a lot of poems in a year. Less than I used to, but maybe 100-200. Maybe half of those I get to some form of completion, then about half of those I find worth even editing and polishing into a final product. This was a poem I started at the apartment earlier in the week, and I went to sleep hoping it was good. After thirty years of writing even before I put ink to paper I know if I'm writing the same poem I've written before. That knowledge can be devastating. Sure, there are poets who have had quite a success grinding out dozens of poems that all look the same, but I don't feel good about doing it. 
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