The contemporary poetry naysayer in my head I imagine walking up to me after an imaginary poetry reading, and who has no idea I’m actually brushing my teeth and flipping off my reflection in between toothpaste spatters on the bathroom mirror, comes walking over thinking he’s the shit, and asks me what is contemporary poetry anyway.
This kind of veiled cultural attack on postmodernism I’m used to, so I start with the surface level dictionary definitions which refer to it as being poetry being written now that doesn’t rhyme or follow a fixed form and which is usually colloquial in its delivery, and that in fact, it borrows a lot of film editing craft and cognitive-behavioral psychology techniques to move its readers.
To this I add a bit of the ball butter of postmodern literary theory when I lay and not lay down how contemporary poetry is both a formless form on a page, and also a kind of process that pays tribute to the idea that a text cannot be known without providing a context for what one is, and thus it can and can’t be found, endlessly.
I don’t understand anything you just said, he tells me to make me fear I don’t know what in the monkey shit I’m talking about, but I’m used to this attack on my intellectuality too, so I kind of digress into an existential ramble that parallels not only the let’s just call it an argument we’re having, but that pays tribute to the process of writing contemporary poetry itself, and whether he catches onto this enactment or not is not as important as the way it seems to parallel him, completely. But we’re not through, because here it comes, the layman’s terms request.
He says, in layman’s terms please, so, in one final heroic act to save contemporary poetry from the oubliette of never being got, and to ensure it gets lifted via the imagination into consciously understandable, readable reality, I tell him contemporary poetry is poetry that in a walnut shell seems like it doesn’t give a shit if it looks or reads like poetry, one that doesn’t have to know dick and can laugh at itself, one that despite its obvious bad attitude somehow manages to say something wise without trying to. Oh, it’s like me, he says with a look, and I tell him yeah, you know what, it’s exactly like you, and I should just read you.