Authenticity Versus Expectation
There are probably some of you who would say that “clichés are clichés for a reason”, and to you I would say “cry me a river!” and I would add that the clichés may be useful, or comfortable, but cliché has no place in poetry, because it isn’t artful. Poetry as a discipline is already suffering from a critical infection of the cliché anyway.
Since my earlier post, Ten Things Not to do at a Literary Reading, I’ve noticed a few things that should probably be added to the list. I’ve seen some discussion lately about similar ideas: what makes an authentic poem, anyway? I’m not sure of an exact recipe, and I wouldn’t want to be, but it does seem that there are an awful lot of stereotypes and clichés about the way poetry should be, the way it should be presented, and so on. These should be avoided at all costs.
For example, a recent article on CityArts commands “Stop Using Poet Voice”. If you’ve ever been to a poetry reading, surely you’ve heard “poet voice” before, which the article describes as “a precious, lilting cadence, to end every other line on a down-note, and to introduce, pauses, within sentences, where pauses, need not go.” This thing called “Poet Voice” does have its place, likes its cousins the announcer voice, the meteorologist voice, the fine print voice, and so on, but that place isn’t every place. (see also: slam poetry voice and the tendency known as “slam poetry all sounds the same”.)
But it isn’t just the performance of the words. Sometimes it’s the words themselves. For a satirical introduction to some “poetical buzzwords” try the list entitled “Words to make your Poetry Legit”