Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The Protestant Cemetery, Rome

When I visited Keats's grave with my sister, I remember her reading the inscription above and remarking that she didn't like acrostics very much. There was a time when I would have said the same thing: they're too artificial, too frivolous, too not-the-sort-of-thing-a-real-poet-should-be-thinking-about. Real poetry should be direct and spontaneous and talk about emotions. Or maybe nature.

I feel very differently now. I prefer poetry that wears its artifice on its sleeve, because that just seems more honest--it's all artificial, after all (otherwise it would be prose).

Though I can appreciate all types of poems (really!), I especially like meters and rhyme schemes and wordplay and, yes, acrostics. (Confessional, blank-verse stuff sometimes annoys me.) And I enjoy writing verses whose only justification, if they can be justified all, is that I manage to write them while obeying a certain set of formal constraints. Such as here, in my acrostic for the sadly defunct television show Starting Over:
OVER and over I urge you to start
Viewing the only show that makes my heart
Expand with joy--for my authentic self
Regained (through life-coaching) its mental health.

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