The History Of Poetry (Satire!)

A) Thesis
Poetry was invented in the 1950s as a breaking from the high-minded academic writings of upper-class intellectuals in favor of the freeform rantings of small men. It’s progenitor was one Charles Bukowski who innovated this new style of writing while brainstorming new ways to insult people and at the same time appear to be making wryfully clever observations about human nature. Soon, poetry swept the underworld and Bukowski himself was much celebrated. In fact, he would have become King of the Arts if he had not insisted upon being a self-destructive alcoholic. No, that throne would remain vacant for many decades until James Cameron ascended it on the strength of his film “Titanic”, a classic movie in which Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet fawn over each other and something of some sort happens to a large boat (it’s not important what really.) Anyhow, poetry soon branched out in its subject matter, not only encompassing contempt but also love, war, nature, the human condition, and the screaming void of existence. That is, until 1968 when human sexuality was invented and poetry really took off.
B) Counter-thesis
Now, some would argue that poetry was, incredibly, invented thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks. Many writings from that period are cited as examples of poetry by an obscure group of people called historians, including such works as The Iliad and The Odyssey, considered by these people to be arguably the finest poems of all time. However, we can easily show that these writings are not poetry. First of all, nothing ever written by the ancient Greeks contained even one single semi-colon. And, what is a poem without semi-colons? How else would one indicate enigmatic thought-breaks, so crucial as they are to poems? Secondly, the ancient Greeks did not use any other punctuation either, and that leads us to what they did invent: run-on sentences. Not poetry, just heedless rambling into the chasm. (Incidently, the ancient Greeks were very prolific inventors, bringing to the world such marvels as geometry, philosophy, irony, democracy, the Olympics, and The Olive Garden.)
 C) Conclusion
Poetry is whatever you want it to be. It can be a short, measured rhyme; a long, metaphorical journey through the unconscious, a medium-sized spiel about people-who-have-wronged-me; or a seemingly random assemblage of words held together in a mysterious narrative by the sheer force of your own creativity. Or better yet, a pastoral description of ducks floating on a pond one Spring day that you insist is actually a meditation of the seething latency of primitive ennui swirling inside every man’s soul. Yes, poetry can be literally anything, and as such, the history of poetry can be whatever you want it to be as well. You can argue that poetry was invented by the first caveman to chisel stick figures into a cave wall. Or that poetry was invented by Jesus when he first deigned to orate. Or that poetry was invented a month ago by a bored cubicle worker who decided to do new and strange things with her daily crossword puzzle. Or that poetry doesn’t exist at all and is only the object of mass delusion caused by the seething latency of primitive…. Nevermind.
D) Endnote
Marilyn Monroe never dated a poet. Unless Arthur Miller wrote poems. Hmmmm. Maybe I should do some research.
Copyright 2010 by Michael Marsters.
All rights reserved.

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