Poetry and Its Disenchantments

Poetry is an evocation, a metaphor, a simple simile – a distillation – there you have it – much better word – of something that prose takes an exponential increase of words to relay.

With this in mind, I once tried to convince a professor that the ten-page paper he required once a week could perhaps be served just as well in a one-page poem. I have been cursed with unimaginative teachers – that is, with teachers unwilling to enter the world of my imagination.

Another case in point: In the early 60’s, I attended Chicago’s Loyola University night school for a semester. This ended one steamy night in a small downtown classroom during a finals exam when I could not think of one single thing to say about the question, but decided to pull a Gertrude Stein and write a story instead about a woman I knew who had lived next door to John Steinbeck in New York and whose dog ate part of the manuscript of [amazon 0140177396 inline] when the galleys were delivered to John’s door by the publisher. The professor was not William James. Maybe if I’d written a poem …