The Writers Voice
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The Poemism Crisis
Thomas Jay Cubb
It is sad that poems do not attract as much attention as they used to. No, I do
not mean to say that poets are a dying breed. Far from it. In fact, there has
been a boom in `poem-production= over the years. But increased supply does not
imply increased demand, `economic'ally speaking.
The core of the problem is that every Tom (includes me!), Dick and Harry wants
to churn out feel-good, heart-warming verse. Sadly the stuff that comes out is
often nothing short of bone-chilling! Verse. Sorry. Worse, they insist that the
world celebrate their works and acknowledge them as the Tom Keats, Dick Shelleys
and the Harry Brownings of the present. The PLIMs (PLIM,in case you don't know,
stands for Poet Laureate In Making) are men whose enthusiasm can be dampened by
nothing whatsoever. I bet a googol dollars that even on the eve of Doomsday, a
PLIM somewhere will be penning the deliverance song to be sung on the Big Day so
that his work be heard in heaven.
Writing poems is not a hobby. It is a passion. I caught the `poemism' virus last
year, or was it the other way around? I became a PLIM anyhow. The thought of
being a poet, acknowledged by one and all exhilarated me. I imagined my
anthology being published and its contents being incorporated in syllabi the
world over. I even introduced similes, metaphors and aphorisms into my poems so
that the erudite student could ponder over their contextual validity and so that
the examiner could spring many a surprise on unwary students.
As the poemism virus tightened its grip over me, things became worse. All I
thought was poems, all I talked was poems, but I could not write any! The
situation now became "Poems, poems everywhere but not a verse to ink." To think
that I was a well of poetry and I had no bucket!
One great advantage of being a PLIM is that one never has to learn grammar.
Those whose hearts have been wrenched by Wren and Martin will realize that this
is true bliss. The true poet spurns grammar in the same way as an Alsatian looks
at a poodle. For the PLIM, marks of punctuation are but avoidable irritants. But
when in doubt, he puts an exclamation mark! - and if doubt persists, can a
question mark be far behind?
The true PLIM never smiles. He goes around with a permanent frown. The sorrows
of the world sit heavily on him. When his mind is not churning ideas, it is
polishing words. He can never afford to relax because springs of inspiration
swell up in his soul. You never know when you strike gold. The PLIM's command
over the language is so great that he considers the dictionary a mere
inconvenience. He creates new words at will, for do not new ideas require new
words? Using old words is definitely old fashion. The PLIM does not want to be
understood In fact, he can never understand his own self. He only wants respect.
And every night and morn, he consigns every critic to the seventh circle of
hell, the latest block there, constructed especially for this abominable
For the PLIM, the postbox is the sign of hope and the postman, the sign of
despair. His wonderful creations are sent with great hope to myriad editors and
just when he hopes, at last some bright editor has dis`cover'ed his true genius,
in comes the postman and throws in bundles of discarded hope. But the PLIM, like
King Bruce of yore knows no despair and sets to work yet again.
Once a PLIM, always a PLIM!
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