Sunday, March 31, 2013

"We've always believed that humorless literature isn't literature at all"

Here's something that annoys me at some of the University-type poetry readings I've attended:
There will be a poet brandishing all of their MFA or Professorial glory, while doing everything they can to suck the life out of their own poetry, through monk-like devotion to robotic library-voiced monotone (as if injecting any vibrancy at a volume that people in the back row can hear somehow devalues what they've put onto the page).

Then they suddenly come to a line that is only slightly amusing and the audience bursts into guffaws, even though it wasn't funny enough to elicit more than half a smile under any other conditions or circumstances ("University funny"). Either the audience is not used to hearing anything remotely funny or so longing to enjoy themselves that they leap at the first hint of an opportunity.

I appreciate when poets like Denise Duhamel, Hal Sirowitz, Stephen Dobyns, and Jeffrey McDaniel utilize humor in ways that earn every laugh.

Which poets make you laugh?

In related news, I am thrilled to be one of the poets included in the upcoming HUMOR issue of Barrelhouse.
Their thoughts on the role of comedy in literature made me feel like I wasn't alone in this world:

We’ve always believed that humorless literature isn’t literature at all: life is weird, and funny, even absurd, and any attempt to capture or catalog that life through language has to at least acknowledge the funny bits. Otherwise you’re just being maudlin, sentimental, a Lifetime movie. You’re being dishonest about the human experience.
For this special issue, we’re looking for work that not only acknowledges the comedic but revels in it.

But a comic sensibility can be dark, even bleak. Often, comedy is what happens when we stare into the void and choose to laugh, rather than cry our eyes out, or give up completely.

I can't wait to see everything else that ends up in this issue.


  1. Preach it!
    More poetry by and for the people (and with life!)

    p.s. Congratulations.

  2. A little inflection or intonation never killed anyone.