You mightn’t associate Bock with poetry, and frankly, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised by that. After all, you’ve had to put up with drunkenness, profanity and endless rugby here over the last couple of years. Not to mention disrespect towards organised religion, maligning of saints and kicking of cripples.
This is not a nice site. I am not a nice man.
And yet, I have to confess that I have always loved poetry, when done well. That isn’t to say that I love poets. I don’t. In my opinion, anyone who calls themselves a poet is a complete twat, deserving of dismal groin-crushing in a dismal groin-crushing machine. Gobshites.
Look!Ã‚ There’s Desmond MacFinger, the poet.
Fuck off, you pretentious arsehole.
The fucking poet.
Did you ever notice that? The pejorative use of the indefinite article? You see it in the “quality” papers all the time.
Tarquin Knob, the artist.
Festy McMonocle, the potter.
Pigprick Arsehole-Bile-Syphilis, the well-known semen painter.
What the fuck?
I hate that The. I really do. It says, I’m a smug, untalented fucker, but I’m part of the circle, and guess what?? You never heard of this other talentless fucker and I did and what’s more I write for the fucking Guardian!! So there.
Who decided what jobs deserve a The, and which ones are only an A?
Joe Mac, the plumber? I don’t think so, and yet, why is a plumber somehow less talented than a fucking potter? Does anyone say, Look!, there’s Luc Defarge, the well-known wallpaperer? No. Of course they don’t, unless he’s hanging William Morris wallpaper, for fucksake, and then, all of a sudden, he’s awarded a fucking THE.
Kelmscott Press? Well why didn’t you fucking say so?
I hate this shit, but it wasn’t what I started out to say. What I started out to say was that I hate self-described poets but I love some poetry. Not the shite kind, but the good kind, by which I mean the kind that is good.
I’ve even written posts about poets here, though you might have missed them. For example, you might have read this, about TS Eliot, or this, about Gerard Manley Hopkins, a post that managed to combine poetry with rugby. But I don’t really know the difference between poetry and prose. I really don’t, except that a lot of people involved in poetry wear very silly scarves and talk in very silly voices.
Isn’t Raymond Carver a poet? Or Salman Rushdie? Isn’t Annie Prouolx a poet for describing a river an inch deep, a mile wide and flows uphill from Texas? I think so. Just as I think that Mervyn Peake was a poet for giving us the Gormenghast trilogy. Who’d say Leonard Cohen is just a singer?
There you go. It’s just my opinion, but that’s ok. That’s the reason I started Bock in the first place: to talk shit, and you’re used to me by now. I mentioned Carver, because I love his work for its compression, without a single word out of place or unnecessary. That’s the mark of a great piece of writing.
There’s a song by James McMurtry called Too Long in the Wasteland, that’s often played by friends of mine, and it contains a line that I could die happy if I’d written:
I didn’t mean to say it, but I meant what I said.
Good God. Wish I wrote that.
I came across an example of such compression recently, a lovely three-line poem written by the immortal Anon:
There are times, like now,
When I would really like to talk to you
See, I wouldn’t have what it takes to write something like that. It’s too good, and too soulful, and I stand back in admiration, as I do for Carver and for Proulx.
Having said that, I did write a haiku, didn’t I? For Cathal Ó Searcaigh.
God, I’m a bad man and I’m going to Hell.