The observant among you have noticed that Bob Christmas hyphenated Bunk-House in the titles of his “Bunk-House Poetics,” which indicates that the hyphenated phrase is an adjectival nominal modifying a noun, in this case Poetics. Given how careful Christmas is with his phrasing and punctuation, if a hyphen were left out, the phrase could mean “House Poetics that are Bunk” — no! I’d better debunk that one right now. Christmas punctuates better than that.
If this were a post-structuralist blog, I could accuse Christmas of being an old white guy, but again, in his poems, he has taken care of that. He has very carefully written that tough truth throughout Saviors on Mt. Disneyland, without conceding, though, that his identity makes him ineligible for poetic stature. Now, however, in “Bunk-House Poetics 8,” he starts down a different slippery slope: quantity versus quality.
Bunk-House Poetics 8
………..Write little; do it well.
………..Your knowledge will be such,
………..At last, as to dispel
………..What moves you overmuch.
………..………..Yvor Winters, “To a Young Poet”
All poets (including this one) tend to overwrite.
We’re very verbal, excitable—we have so
much to say, about our own lives especially;
and we’re just dying to share it with others.
Sadly, this is the downfall of most poets.
Do your readers a favor and write one-page
poems eighty—no, ninety—percent of the time.
Avoid writing multi-page poems that read
like somebody’s confessional diary (ouch!).
Keep your lines and your poems short.
You’re not Chaucer, or Pope; you’re writing
the English Lyric, a form that enabled Hardy,
Shakespeare—many others—to achieve near
perfection in verse. And believe it or not,
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