re: The Uncollected Works of R. Zimmerman

you went to school. you went to graduate school. you talked about James Tate for 2 hours which everyone hated, but you all read it anyway.

you negotiated the politics of intersectionality, the politics of prosody, the politics of punctuation. you know that punctuation can be political. yes, every pixel: political.

you choose to only capitalize proper nouns and the preposition I. this is an outdated printing convention. it is not political. you wrote a research paper on Emily Dickenson’s dashes and capitalization. that wasn’t political either. you learned all this.

you don’t have a Kindle. you have a library. you have your own notation system. you tell people this. you tell people, “you can’t get a Kindle signed.”

you got published. you got published again. you got published in that journal you idolized. rinse, repeat and get a discount to Poets&Writers.

you’ve gone on tour. you’ve featured across the pond–in England, where the English comes from. you’ve even read at AWP.

but then you said that thing…

“no, I don’t consider Bob Dylan’s lyrics to be poetry.”

you qualified: you love his music.

you qualified: I don’t consider to show it was a statement of opinion.

you qualified: you can’t write songs!

you qualified: you qualified: you qualified: you qualified: right now.

and yet…

how dare you?          (you thought you had the right.)

but he’s brilliant?          (you didn’t remember saying otherwise.)

but there’s no Nobel for music!          (you know there’s not one for visual arts either.)

haven’t you watched Dead Poet’s Society?!          (you think that’s a very good argument for

    why Ann Sexton didn’t get a Nobel for

    Chemistry or Robert Frost for Economics.

    you think it is a very bad argument for

    calling something poetry.)

but it’s about how it makes you feel!          (you think feelings are a good way of assessing

   quality. you think your emotions don’t constitute

   a working definition for anything.)

(you don’t know if songwriting is literature, but you know it’s not poetry.)

(you’d like to leave what’s literature? to someone else.)

(you thought you’d earned the right to speak your mind.)

(at least some respect you thought…)

(you admonished yourself for the cliche.)

yes, yes: we all have free speech.

and, yes: we all have opinions, too.

and, no: you still won’t pretend to be a music authority.

because: you suck at tonal arrangements.

because: you like knowing your limits.

because: poetry is nothing but limits–   words, page, whiteout, form.

sword, gape, outwit, morph. 

because: it’s about growing out of those limits and spilling on the sidewalk.

but no, no, no: this is not for you.


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