Metapoetry

Self-aware poetry about poetry and /or writing poetry.

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins
I Stop Writing the Poem by Tess Gallagher
kidnap poem by Nikki Giovanni
The Twins by Rachel Hadas
Unfolding Bud by Naoshi Koriyama
Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish
Shallow Poem by Gerda Mayer 
How To Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam
Reply to the Question: "How can You Become a Poet?" by Eve Merriam
Poetry by Marianne Moore
Because You Asked about the Line between Prose and Poetry by Howard Nemerov
The Poet by Pablo Neruda
 Metaphors by Sylvia Plath
Sound and Sense by Alexander Pope
Beware: Do Not Read This Poem by Ishmael Reed
An Obsessive Combination of Onotological Inscape, Trickery and Love by Anne Sexton
Eating Poetry by Mark Strand
Notes on the Art of Poetry by Dylan Thomas
The Writer by Richard Wilbur
For Poets by Al Young
 


Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


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I Stop Writing the Poem by Tess Gallagher

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I'm still a woman.
I'll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I'll get back
to the poem. I'll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there's a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it's done.


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kidnap poem by Nikki Giovanni

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kid
nap you


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The Twins by Rachel Hadas

Philip Larkin says
novels are about those
numerous men and women who're not us,

entering whose complicated houses,
following whose miseries and joys,
we can for a while escape ourselves.

Poems, on the other hand, ask why,
scream, whisper, cry,
all (if they choose) wearing the guise of "I."

Spinning connection upon
connection, leaping out along the line,
they tend to lack solutions.

conclusions, plots. The questions
poems pose are less then what? than how?
we get from moment to

moment. In obedience to some law
poems manage to reveal
as rapidly or slowly they unreel

not only what I but also what others feel.
If we go to prose
hoping it will help us lose

track of our lives, in poems we find ourselves.
There what began as alien --
anger, memory, dream --

leaps the chasm. Poems clear the air
so anyone can see from here to there
into another's mysterious desire.

Walls that separate, doors tightly shut,
all barriers that proclaim PRIVATE! KEEP OUT!
poetry breaches, having made us so

porous I can suddenly be you,
explore your mazy brain, as you can mine.
Live and forget, but read and recognize.

Be a guest in the enchanted house
built by twins who are identical
only in being both miraculous.

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Unfolding Bud by Naoshi Koriyama

One is amazed
By a water-lily bud
Unfolding
With each passing day,
Taking on a richer color
And new dimensions.

One is not amazed,
At first glance,
By a poem,
Which is tight-closed
As a tiny bud.

Yet one is surprised
To see the poem
Gradually unfolding,
Revealing its rich inner self
As one reads it
Again
And over again.


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Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown --

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind --

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea --

A poem should not mean
But be


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Shallow Poem by Gerda Mayer 

I've thought of a poem.
I carry it carefully,
nervously, in my head,
like a saucer of milk:
in case I should spill some lines
before I can put it down.


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How To Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that

may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.


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Reply to the Question: "How can You Become a Poet?"
by Eve Merriam

take the leaf of a tree
trace its exact shape
the outside edges
and inner lines

memorize the way it is fastened to the twig
(and how the twig arches from the branch)
how it springs forth in April
how it is panoplied in July

by late August
crumple it in your hand
so that you smell its end-of-summer sadness

chew its woody stem

listen to its autumn rattle

watch it as it atomizes in the November air

then in winter
when there is no leaf left

invent one


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Poetry by Marianne Moore

I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a

high sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are
useful; when they become so derivative as to become unintelligible,
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat,
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that
feels a flea, the base--
ball fan, the statistician--
nor is it valid
to discriminate against "business documents and

schoolbooks"; all these phenomena are important. One must make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not pretty,
nor till the poets among us can be
"literalists of
the imagination"--above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, then you are interested in poetry.


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Because You Asked about the Line
between Prose and Poetry
by Howard Nemerov

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned into pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn't tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.


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The Poet by Pablo Neruda

That time when I moved among happenings
in the midst of my mournful devotions; that time
when I cherished a leaflet of quartz,
and stared at a lifetime's vocation.
I ranged in the markets of avarice
where goodness is bought for a price, breathed
the insensate miasmas of envy, the inhuman
contention of masks and existences.
I endured in the bog-dweller's element; the lily
that breaks on the water in a sudden
disturbance of bubbles and blossoms, devoured me.
Whatever the foot sought, the spirit deflected,
or sheered toward the fang of the pit.
So my poems took being, in travail
retrieved from the thorn, like a penance,
wrenched by a seizure of hands, out of solitude;
or they parted for burial
their secretest flower in immodesty's garden.
Estranged to myself, like shadow on water
that moves through a corridor's fathoms,
I sped through the exile of each man's existence,
this way and that, and so, to habitual loathing;
for I saw that their being was this: to stifle
one half of existence's fullness like fish
in an alien limit of ocean. And there,
in immensity's mire, I encountered their death;
Death grazing the barriers,
Death opening roadways and doorways.


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Metaphors by Sylvia Plath

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.


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Sound and Sense by Alexander Pope

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!


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Beware: Do Not Read This Poem by Ishmael Reed

tonite, thriller was
abt an ol woman, so vain she
surrounded herself w/
many mirrors

it got so bad that finally she
locked herself indoors & her
whole life became the
mirrors

one day the villagers broke
into her house, but she was too
swift for them. she disappeared
into a mirror

each tenant who bought the house
after that, lost a loved one to
the ol woman in the mirror:
first a little girl
then a young woman
then the young woman/s husband

the hunger of this poem is legendary
it has taken in many victims
back off from this poem
it has drawn in yr feet
back off from this poem
it has drawn in yr legs

back off from thias poem
it is a greedy mirror
you are into this poem. from
the waist down
nobody can hear you can they?
this poem has had you up to here
belch
this poem aint got no manners
you cant call out frm this poem
relax now & go w/ this poem

move & roll on to this poem
do not resist this poem
this poem has yr eyes
this poem has his head
this poem has his arms
this poem has his fingers
this poem has his fingertips

this poem is the reader & the
reader this poem

statistic: the us bureau of missing persons re-
ports that in 1968 over 100,000 people
disappeared leaving no solid clues
nor traceonly
a spacein the lives of their friends


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An Obsessive Combination of Ontological Inscape,
Trickery and Love
by Anne Sexton

Busy, with an idea for a code, I write
signals hurrying from left to right,
or right to left, by obscure routes,
for my own reasons; taking a word like writes
down tiers of tries until its secret rites
make sense; or until, suddenly, RATS
can amazingly and funnily become STAR
and right to left that small star
is mine, for my own liking, to stare
its five lucky pins inside out, to store
forever kindly, as if it were a star
I touched and a miracle I really wrote.


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Eating Poetry by Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs bum like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.


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Notes on the Art of Poetry by Dylan Thomas

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words...
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights...
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.


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The Writer by Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy..
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.


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For Poets by Al Young

Stay beautiful
but don't stay down underground too long
Dont turn into a mole
or a worm
or a root
or a stone

Come on out into the sunlight
Breathe in trees
Knock out mountains
Commune with snakes
& be the very hero of birds

Don't forget to poke your head up
& blink
Think
Walk all around
Swim upstream

Dont forget to fly


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