More advice to a would-be poet
My friend Kitty, who knows about such matters, offers useful advice to would-be poets at her blog. As a holder of a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, I am an authority on worthless career choices in general; however, when I graduated kindergarten, I was also awarded a diploma naming me a Bachelor of Rhymes. Thus, I just happen to have the academic credentials to offer my own supplementary advice to would-be poets:
- Worthless prose can be easily turned into prize-winning poetry by simply inserting random carriage returns.
- Fairly or not, if your surname is Astor, you’ll inevitably be written off as a poetaster. Concentrate on the family fur-trading and real-estate fortune instead.
- A line of iambic pentameter need not be literally five feet long, despite the name. If necessary, however, this can be easily achieved by increasing the size of your font.
- As the setting of the novel Moby-Dick, the film The Nanny Diaries, and the TV sitcom Wings, the island of Nantucket is still a surprisingly fertile and untapped source of inspiration for limericks, dirty or otherwise.
- Think carefully before accepting Virgil’s offer of a guided tour through Hell and Purgatory. Can you honestly do better than the last poet who covered this topic? Do you have a one-way or return ticket? Is this the Roman poet Virgil or professional wrestler Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase’s henchman Virgil?
- Wearing black is slimming, but so is supporting oneself as a professional poet. Doing both is not only overkill but also a dead giveaway of your amateur standing.
- Not only is finding a rhyme for the word “orange” impossible, but the definitive citrus-related verses have already been written — “Lady Marmalade” by Patti LaBelle — so don’t even bother.
- Haiku and “Beowulf” respectively demonstrate that poems about the Japanese are shorter than average and poems about Danes are longer than average (an interesting correlation with actual height). Poetry is therefore one of the few fields in which the Japanese work less hard than the worldwide average, making it an ideal career choice for lazy people in that nation.
- If you write a semi-autobiographical novel about an oven, follow this up by smothering yourself in a bell jar.
- Should you be fortunate and successful enough to be named Poet Laureate, don’t pass up your right to wear a wreath of laurel leaves, in accordance with ancient tradition. In a pinch, a bay leaf plucked from your crown can enliven any soup, stew, braise, or pâté.
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