A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 13 September 2012

How to Write Poems And Get The Girl

Inspired by Jack Kerouac's writing tips as featured recently on Ruth's blog washed stones, I perversely came up with this piece of light verse...

Advice to a Young Poet

Be influenced by, don’t steal or plagiarize.
In poems on love, don’t adulate the eyes.
Extol some far less obvious body part,
e.g. the toenail. That, my friend, is art!

Eschew the sonnet and the villanelle.
They’re hard to write and much harder to sell.
Instead, go for some freeform kind of stuff.
Even light verse like this is good enough.

Don’t dedicate a poem to a coy
mistress or to a marvellous boy,
a nightingale, a cuckoo or an urn.
It’s all been done before, as you shall learn.

Instead, pen odes to cockroaches or cheese,
or phlegm or feet or fungal growth or fleas.
Just shop around in some poetic Primark
and please forget about that bloody skylark.

Don’t give up booze like Raymond Carver. Try
and drink yourself to death. But when you die,
do it in style like Dylan Thomas, who
had so many women begging for a screw

it became almost a sexual pandemic
among the wives of many an academic
or US prof. or lecturer, or worse —
the concubines of poets of crap verse.

Don’t be tied down by too much punctuation,
and never offer any explanation
as to the meaning of your latest work,
or hint at inner demons that may lurk

within your morbid, melancholy soul.
Just keep folks guessing.  If they still cajole
you to reveal your bardic mystery,
invent a glam, romantic history:

how you were orphaned at the age of ten,
abused by nuns, left in an opium den
from dusk till dawn, and how you were reviled
like Baudelaire, De Sade or Oscar Wilde. 

So, in conclusion, hear well what I say.
Be enigmatic. Don’t give much away.
Inscrutability, I think you’ll find,
makes you magnetic to the female kind.


Bouncing Bertie said...

The idea of shopping around "in some poetic Primark" will keep me smiling all morning.
Thanks! Gail.

Rachel Fox said...

There is a website called Lighten Up online or something like that. They might like this... but you might have to take it off here.

Ruth said...

All true—for the right girl anyway!

This is pure Robert! Somewhere in your bawdy, hilarious style is a reminiscence of Rilke's advice to Franz Kappus, to go deep into mystery, and be original.

The Solitary Walker said...

Glad it made you smile, Gail!

Thanks for the pointer, Rachel . . . and Ruth, indeed, it occurred to me also that a cynical, 21st century Rilkalike haunts the poem...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pretty sound advice Robert apart from a couple of things:
a) I don't think women go for inscrutability. and
b) I have never understood how Dylan pulled so many women.

am said...


Per your verse:

That, my friend, is art!

Funny you should mention Raymond Carver. I just had sensed his influence in "Tempest" -- nothing stolen or plagiarized -- just a presence. Raymond Carver's short stories were influenced by Chekhov, and Bob Dylan has said that "Blood on the Tracks" was influenced by the short stories of Chekhov. Maybe so. Maybe not. Inscrutable? Yes! Who was that masked man?


The Solitary Walker said...

Well, Pat, err, I think it was his inscrutability... Please now reformulate (a)!

Thanks am! Listening to 'Tempest' right now...

The Solitary Walker said...

Whoops, you meant, of course, Dylan Thomas not Bob Dylan, Pat. I think I have Bob Dylan on my mind today. Why was Dylan Thomas a babe magnet despite his lack of conventional good looks? Why, the fact he was a poet, and the beauty of his voice, and his gift of the gab, I think!

Goat said...

As advised, I have hit the bottle again after 18 months of sobriety - and it's only 7:46 on a Sunday morning. Pandemic expected to kick off any minute. Best start penning some limericks for added pulling power...

The Solitary Walker said...

Goat, I hope you are joking about the drink. Please tell me you are joking. Girls like other stuff too apart from whisky-fuelled repartee and crap verse. Flower arranging, decoupage and sober, homely chats by the fireside, for instance. At a pinch they may even be convinced to stealth-camp in ghostly Buddhist temples. At a pinch.