November WriMo, Day 18

It’s (inter)National Novel Writing Month (iNaNoWriMo), though we all know I’m not working on a novel. But neither am I willing to pass up a chance to ride the wonderful wave of creative energy rolling across the globe and through my own amazing community. (Shout-out to all the beautiful Bluegrass writers!) So I’ve given myself four very different writing activities to work on this month and have been able to make time for at least one of them each day.

Today’s activity is blogging, inspired by this article on poetry by A.E. Stallings. I may have to print it and carry it with me for those awkward moments when I’m called upon to talk about what I do. (For the record, I often cop out by talking about editing, which is only slightly less deadly to conversation than poetry.) Stallings hits all the salient points, and I love him for it.

  • Poetry is not useful, yet it is everywhere.
  • It transcends us and will outlast us all in some recorded form, though who will care?
  • Poetry is commercially non-viable and materially irrelevant, which makes it rather suspect.

Poetry arises from paradox, from the multiple meanings a word or image can hold. It’s a linguistic version of certain mathematical equations which seem to describe separate realities happening all at once.

Anyone who doubts the subversive, contradictory, and disreputable power of poetry needs only consider this year’s Nobel prize award for literature. It doesn’t explain much, but it makes a fantastic illustration. (Kinda like poetry.)

A.E. Stallings, “Why Bother with Poetry?” Times Literary Supplement Online, 7 Nov 2016,


7 responses to “November WriMo, Day 18

  1. And my favorite line: ” Both A. E. Housman and Emily Dickinson defined poetry by its symptoms.” Hahah, so true. Love this post! Putting it up on the FB page.

  2. You are NOT reading Gene Stratton Porter. Are you kidding me? I used to love those racist books. i mean love them. The racism creeped me out, and then when I was older I couldn’t bear to peer into them again.

    • Obviously I didn’t like them for the racism. But the naturalism with the growing up female part was fascinating.

    • As native Hoosier, I’ve heard about her all my life, but I’d never read any of her books. I picked up a copy of Girl of the Limberlost this summer, resolving to close that gap in my reading experience. The book definitely reflects class attitudes of the day, but I don’t recall any characters identified by race or anything racist. From what I gather, though, the same can’t be said of the rest of her books. I think I’ll stop at this one. Thanks for the warning!

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