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Anaphora is a Floral Arrangement


by Reva Zerkalo


After the conflict I saw changes in the postwar Libertines who once lionised the Poet and thrilled and thrummed in high hysteria when he graced their prewar soirees. Matrona of Culture - who doted on a pet eccentric, who viewed the face of poetry in the fop on the fringe, in the deviant with a sonnet or a drunk with a bold rhyme — have morphed. Few of us survived the hostilities; the worse for wear in a dogeared chapbook, perhaps. But those once-upon-a-time Matrons still abound, a bit plumpi-er and a lot frumpi-er, but by Jove they abound, still at it, licensing poetry with the new postwar order. Mortified by oddballs and flustered by offbeats, our novuo snobbettes want no truck with idiosyncratic bards who may squeeze out an unfortunate metaphor at Lady Lettuce's dinner do. The face of poetry has been sponged...expunged by a gaggle of 'Emilys'. Things change after war. You can't fight it. Kinder, kuche and kirche died with the Führer in Berlin and the women started scrambling for higher education.

Superannuated secretaries flocked to creative writing colleges and ones that couldn't type, registered for a BA lit. It's okay, for a bit; for a bit of a flirt with Carlos Castaneda and never missing an opportunity to argue Shakespeare did not complete his complete works. And then Alla Kazzaam! They are smitten by the mid-semester blitz: a preternatural flash, some call a split in the common sense, that frazzles the neophyte-with-a-pen into a poetess. It's in no way connected to irresponsible experimentation with pot. The spasm in their rationality instantaneously deposits a cosmic belief they can compose a poem. Crikey-Moses, not even Acapulco Gold can do that. This newfound reality is an existential struggle for the unlicked hen-cubs. They haven't as yet mastered the mystery of first person present tense and haven't the vaguest notion as what to do with the comma before a conjunction; anaphora is a floral arrangement. But the wonders of inconceivables, they think they can write a poem...I bite my tongue; some things should be left to the heart.

The fallout from PTPS - Post Traumatic Poetess Syndrome - is scary. Those that drop out join poetry groups, the Twelve Step Emily Dickenson Non-rhyme Group to Stability, and those that do manage a diploma assume overall command of the groups. My tongue bleeds.

So this, the new face of poetry. And if you think that that's sad — buckle up for the next bit, it's a science fiction plot: the Groups rule the roost. Yes, Artificial Intelligence has managed to take over.

There is already an established ectoplasm. They meet at night. They meet in public libraries. Re-re-propagate in the close quarters of private homes, cramped salons, sitting on extra chairs lugged in from the neighbours. If you happen to knock on the wrong door and stumble into a huddle of humanity and find more moustaches in the room than there are men, here, an identikit to confirm a sighting of the new face of poetry.

The Matrona shmeared a regurgitation of the ABC of regurgitation over its face. You don't need a diploma to see a mask with an old hat. Tired stanzas shlepped from the market with two fallen arches in three string bags. Listen to the derivative sound, there's nothing new in the stew of chapbooks ladies poke into your hands, for nothing-you-could-afford. If you hear anything innovative you may have stumbled into an AA meeting. Something with fourteen lines, it's not a sonnet - it's an accident. You won't hear form-poetry and if someone announces a Sestina, run for it — it's obvious there's women in there running amok.

There's an all-around funk. According to my dictionary, 'funk' is a 'smelly smell', so maybe I didn't quite mean that. Maybe I meant: spot the Group Leader with the jovial look of a night-worker pretending not to have been sleeping. That's the new face of poetry, a toothy grimace biting back a yawn.

It brings to mind the story about Quillkenquest, the last poet laureate of Scatterand, who faced prison for immersing in the women's ritual bath, seven times seven, forty nine times, after picking up an anthology of poetry in the loo that included 'Batya's Binge' and 'The Blue Door at the End of my Street'. With three lines in his defence, he humbly informed the judge, “my only credentials are the testimony to my life, scratched with obsolete words.” He asked to submit his flimsy sheet, “if it so pleases My Lord.” He got off.

they have dripped my blood

curdled my seed

my nib is buckled

 

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