Sunday 25 May 2008

Because I said so

Spoken word performer Valentino Assenza has composed a response to my rant below, and with his permission I am posting a notice about it here on my blog. You can check it out on his website at It's called "Because Paul Vermeersch Said So." Here is a sample:

I think it's time
I looked into a trade,
I'm just not a poet anymore,

I write things,
I've published a few poems
here and there,
I've even published
three books of poetry,
but I've learned today
that none of this is relevant.

I've read and performed my poetry
in cafes,
art galleries,
I've even had people
and even some cheer,

but what was it all for?

It all ends today,
see today,
Paul Vermeersch told me
I wasn't a poet.

I appreciate the directions an open dialogue can take, and I'm pleased with all the attention, positive and negative, that my screed has attracted. I invite readers to decide for themselves whether or not Valentino's composition works well as written poetry. I do find it curious that he would write the lines, "I feel guilty enough / as it is writing this in stanza form," when it isn't written in stanza form at all, but in a very loose kind of free verse with copious, irregular line breaks. Not that excellent poetry hasn't been written in that form, but it doesn't have anything to do with "stanzas."

I also question the choice of "famous" poets he invokes in his composition, seemingly as exemplars of the kind of "poetry" on which he has modelled his own work. They include: Charles Bukowski, Jim Carroll, Henry Rollins, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison. It's interesting that most of them are well-known, and often greatly respected, figures in popular music, none of whom have ever enjoyed stellar literary reputations.

If I were reviewing this poem as a critic, I would have to say that I find Valentino's composition quite amusing, even funny, but I don't think it works very well on the level of poetry, and in many ways, I feel he is helping to make a lot of the points I've been trying to make about how a poet requires a dedication to poetic craft and to a lifelong study of the art of poetry. Whether or not you agree with me is, of course, entirely up to you.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Vermeersch said...

Deleted post above was from a spambot advertising a money making scheme that had nothing to do with poetry.

Zachariah Wells said...

Had no opinion either way before, but now I've gotta say to Mr. Assenza that if Paul told you you're not a poet, then Paul's right--at least if that brutal bit of chopped-up prose is any indication of what you typically bring to the mic.