| Rule #1
|| Never say anything in a poem that you wouldn't say in a bar.
| Rule #2
|| If you can't be profound
| Rule #3
|| There's a difference between poetry and hebephrenia.
| Rule #4
|| McNeilley Dictum #4:
Cut off the last line! This will make your poem better!
(If this doesn't work, keep cutting off the last line.)
| Rule #5
|| Never discuss bad poetry with anyone who hasn't read Ferlinghetti.
| Rule #6
|| Poetry lies between synonyms.
| Rule #7
|| The difference between self-expression and communication is poetry.
| Rule #8
|| If you can't spell a word don't use it.
| Rule #9
|| The fact that it's bad writing doesn't make it good poetry.
| Rule #10
|| Don't emote. Evoke.
| Rule #11
|| Linebreaks don't make poetry any more than stuttering does.
| Rule #12
|| Try to be understood too quickly.
| Rule #13
|| If it doesn't sound like poetry to a Lower Slobovian it probably isn't.
| Rule #14
|| Every modern poem must contain at least one em dash abuse.
| Rule #15
|| Audiences don't come to use their imaginations. They come to use yours.
| Rule #16
|| To each their own taste, even those with none.
| Rule #17
|| Don't use clichés. Create them.
| Rule #18
|| The Egoless Motto:
"If you don't think your poetry is competing against the works of others you're probably right."
| Rule #19
|| Don't worry about your voice until someone is listening.
| Rule #20
|| Writing is to poetry as paper is to stone.
| Rule #21
|| Poetry isn't about the writer or the reader. It's about everything in between.
| Rule #22
|| You aren't a poet until the janitor says you are.
| Rule #23
|| The Gerard Ian Lewis Rule:
Triteness is a minor flaw, easily remedied (should nothing else occur to you)
by adding a mysterious reference to a goat in the last line.
| Rule #24
|| The Elizabeth Alexander Rule:
Poetry's only selling point is that it is cheaper than tear gas.
| Rule #25
|| The fact that it's boring doesn't mean it's poetry.
| Rule #26
|| We aren't stoned enough for this.
| Rule #27
|| The Pistols at Dawn Rule:
Never compare a poet's work to Ferlinghetti's unless you're a better shot than target.
| Rule #28
|| The Joan Houlihan Rule:
Any poetry reading longer than 20 minutes is a hostage situation.
| Rule #29
|| The merit of your words should exceed the considerable value of silence.
| Rule #30
|| Poetry cannot be paraphrased.
| Rule #31
|| If you cannot scan verse you cannot imagine free verse.
| Rule #32
|| Poetry is a competition with judges and coaches but no performers or fans.
| Rule #33
|| Poetry needs to get over itself.
| Rule #34
|| Tripe details the unspeakably obvious.
Poetry details the unspeakable obvious.
| Rule #35
|| People don't read poetry for the same reason you don't read film scripts.
| Rule #36
|| Memory is the difference between storing and misplacing.
Intelligence is the difference between planting and burying.
| Rule #37
|| Free versers don't count.
| Rule #38
|| There is always a deadline.
| Rule #39
|| The Rule of Two and Three:
Two is a contrast.
Three is a trend.
| Rule #40
|| Bad poetry haunts the author.
Good poetry haunts the reader.
| Rule #41
|| Journalism is about what you say.|
Poetry is about how you say it.
Diplomacy is about how you avoid saying it.
| Rule #42
|| Prose is message. Poetry is words.|
| Rule #43
|| All those who distinguish between art and audience understand neither.|
| Rule #44
|| "I want your honest opinion" is never entirely true.|
| Rule #45
|| Poetry is cheaper and safer than other general anaesthetics.|
| Rule #46
|| If you ain't getting better you're getting worse.|
| Rule #47
|| The funny thing about arrogance is where you find it.|
| Rule #48
|| Writers shouldn't write better than readers can read. |
| Rule #49
|| It's not too clever to appear so. |
| Rule #50
|| The 50-50 Rule: Fewer than 1 in 50 can recite a poem written in the last 50 years. |
| Rule #51
|| Denial is not a cure. |
| Rule #52
|| Poetry used to have fans. |
Now it has constituencies.
| Rule #53
|| Defining poetry by content is like trying to grab a drowning donkey by its bubbles. |
| Rule #54
|| A picture contains a thousand words.|
A poem contains a thousand pictures.
| Rule #55
|| Prosodists aren't shamans or mystics.|
They are coroners and accountants.
| Rule #56
|| Fewer people know the fundamentals of poetry than the rudiments of Klingon. |
| Rule #57
|| "It's more fun if you take it seriously."|
- Pearl's Paradox #1
| Rule #58
|| No meritocracy ever survived a vote. |
| Rule #59
|| Practice does not make perfect.|
Practice makes permanent.
| Rule #60
|| We hold these truths to be, like, duh. |
| Rule #61
|| Your ear is brighter than your brain.|
| Rule #62
|| Poetry bears repeating. |
| Rule #63
|| Poetry used to be a challenge to write and easy to read. |
Now it's the opposite.
| Rule #64
|| As goes contemporary, so goes classical. |
| Rule #65
|| Imagine how dull the world would be if you or I were the most interesting thing in it. |
| Rule #66
|| Bad actors pause for breath. |
Good actors pause for thought.
| Rule #67
|| "Forgettable poetry" is an oxymoron. |
| Rule #68
|| Few who teach Shakespeare have learned anything from him. |
| Rule #69
|| Poetry is an act of consumption, not production. |
| Rule #70
|| There has never been a better time to be a bad poet, |
never a worse time to be a good one.
| Rule #71
|| Poetry is about poems, not poets. |
| Rule #72
|| Introducing your work as "poetry" is like a hunter firing off a warning shot. |
| Rule #73
|| Those who believe in criticism without criticism|
usually believe in poetry without poetry.
| Rule #74
|| Would you buy a car from someone whose sales pitch |
an argument that the thing in front of you is, in fact, a car?
| Rule #75
|| Science is where superstitions go to die. |
| Rule #76
|| Good poetry is memorable. |
Great poetry is unforgettable.
| Rule #77
|| If you have to ask its meaning|
a poem has already failed.
| Rule #78
|| If you have to tell me it's a poem |
| Rule #79
|| Novice poets don't have a style. |
Experienced poets don't want one.
| Rule #80
|| You will learn more from the critique that you give |
than the critique you receive.
| Rule #81
|| Inspiration has a date of expiration. |
| Rule #82
|| What trips off the tongue lands in our memory. |
| Rule #83
|| One who compromises on wit becomes a half. |
| Rule #84
|| Rehearse until it seems unrehearsed. |
| Rule #85
|| Today, the poet with five readers can envy|
the exclusivity of the one with three.
| Rule #86
|| Bad poets may argue that words have no meaning.|
Theirs certainly don't.
| Rule #87
|| People reread stories because they forgot the words.|
People reread poetry because they remember them.
| Rule #88
|| If no one is in for a penny|
then no one is in for a pound.
| Rule #89
|| If you can't be famous|
| Rule #90
|| It is not the public's apathy we need to address first.
| Rule #91
|| We can sell crap to a lazy ignoramus.|
We can't sell crap by a lazy ignoramus.
| Rule #92
|| What can mean anything means nothing.
| Rule #93
|| Try not to blur the distinction between aesthetics and anaesthetics.
| Rule #94
|| Chris Richardson's American Ido effect: |
"Being bad includes not knowing you're bad."
| Rule #95
|| "Now that phone booths are gone will poets stop trying to fill them?"
| Rule #96
|| "Avant garde" is beyond pretentious.|
It is pretension itself.
| Rule #97
|| Don't ask what it means.|
Ask if and why it will be remembered.
| Rule #98
|| Authorial intent is to poetry what creationism is to science.
| Rule #99
|| The Bachmann Question: |
"How can we tell where the disingenuity ends and the stupidity begins?"
| Rule #100
|| We can work with the clueless. |
We can't work with the clueproof.
| Rule #101
|| Those who can't do...preach.
| Rule #102
|| What is fashionable can never be original.
| Rule #103
|| Poets not jealous of Maz have the most reason to be.
| Rule #104
|| Ignorance isn't the sin that laziness is.
| Rule #105
|| On Originality: |
The question isn't: "Have I seen this before?"
The question is: "Do I want to see this again?"
| Rule #106
|| Shakespeare's Law:|
"If you don't know how poetry is performed
you don't know how it is written."
| Rule #107
|| There are no rules,|
only tools and fools.
| Rule #108
|| People avoid today's poetry for the same reason psychotherapists charge money.
| Rule #109
|| I'm a big fan of my work.|
Sadly, others have better taste.
| Rule #110
|| If poetry wants more fans|
it will need more heir conditioning.
| Rule #111
|| Do not confuse wilful ignorance and opinion.
| Rule #112
|| Anyone can be awful but if you want to be shockingly so|
you need to go first.
| Rule #113
|| Did you know that poetry is a spectator sport?
| Rule #114
|| Nobody Reads Poetry
| Rule #115
|| There is no more certain proof that poetry
than the need to deny it.
| Rule #116
|| While alive, poetry was art. |
Now it is religion.
| Rule #117
|| People don't call what they read "prose"|
and they don't read what we call "poetry".
| Rule #118
|| History is politics.
| Rule #119
|| [When writing...] Show, don't tell.|
[When performing...] Tell, don't show.
| Rule #120
|| Write for audiences, not readers.
| Rule #121
|| Common sense is not an open-book test.
| Rule #122
|| Poetry isn't what you write. |
It's what others remember hearing.
| Rule #123
|| Trying to sell poetry today is like trying|
to sell scripts in a civilization without theaters.
(Pssst! You have to build the theaters first.)
| Rule #124
|| What are you afraid of learning?
| Rule #125
|| Vicious cycle warning!|
Learning breeds curiosity.
And vice versa.
| Rule #126
|| Poetry is an effect,|
not a cause,
not an affect.
| Rule #127
|| A poem is rarely about its topic.
| Rule #128
|| Honesty is just a lack of imagination.
| Rule #129
|| Lies tell us twice as much as the truth.
| Rule #130
|| The wise learn more from fiction |
than fools from fact.
| Rule #131
|| Poetry isn't about saying something original. |
It's about saying something originally.
| Rule #132
|| You don't have to be clever, |
just slightly less stupid than everyone else.
| Rule #133
|| Nothing good ever followed the words "Hold my beer and watch this!"
| Rule #134
|| News is what doesn't happen.
| Rule #135
|| If everything is art then nothing is art.
| Rule #136
|| How to read poetry:|
(Instead, listen to it.)
| Rule #137
|| "Poetry readings" is an oxymoron.
| Rule #138
|| The one lesson that can be learned only by reading poetry|
is that we should be listening to poetry.
| Rule #139
|| Mixing politics and art yields neither.
| Rule #140
|| Too much clarity has the same effect on pseudointellectuals|
as too much sunlight has on vampires.
| Rule #141
|| Poetry is its own ambassador.
| Rule #142
|| Tell me the fable, not the moral.
| Rule #143
|| Common sense isn't just a myth.|
It's an oxymoron.
| Rule #144
|| Truth is the most effective lie.
| Rule #145
|| The story is the story.
| Rule #146
|| The teller is the story.
| Rule #147
|| You can't invent what you can't imagine.
| Rule #148
|| Quality is not a genre.
| Rule #149a
|| When arts die they turn into hobbies. |
- Michael Lind
| Rule #149b
|| When arts die they turn into lobbies. |
- Pearl Gray
| Rule #150
|| "Poetry is the original digital art; its audience tends to be in the digits." |
- Michael Lind
| Rule #151
|| Poetry ≠ Email From Rehab
| Rule #152
|| Why do you think teleprompters were invented?
| Rule #153
|| Prose is timely. |
Poetry is timeless.
| Rule #154
|| From childhood, humans are conditioned to fall asleep when you read to them.
| Rule #155
|| Poetry. |
It isn't just prose
you agree with.
| Rule #156
|| Never accuse anyone of being a poet. They might know a lawyer.
| Rule #157
|| There is no such thing as a little candor.
| Rule #158
|| The Tsendoku Law: |
The number of poetry publications read is lower than the number sold.
| Rule #159
|| "Maybe it was a slow news day. |
Poetry has a lot of those."
| Rule #160
|| You can't sell books shorter than 25 words.
| Rule #161
|| "All a real editor needs is clean copy, dirty graphics,|
a nearby printing press and a corrupt janitor."
| Rule #162
|| Satire should be funny,|
not just silly.
| Rule #163
|| Poetry isn't homework.
| Rule #164
|| "To be useful in classrooms poetry must|
be accessible without being accessible."
| Rule #165
|| Your greatest ability is your available.
| Rule #166
|| If the audience is not your first concern|
then you will be their last.
| Rule #167
|| Whether or not critique is constructive |
depends on how the author uses it,
not on the manner in which it's phrased."
- John Boddie (on Gazebo)
| Rule #168
|| Postmodernism is incoherent solipsism.
| Rule #169
|| Poetry can be about anything. |
Poetry is about everything.
| Rule #170
|| Better is different enough.
| Rule #171
|| The only thought more frightening than poetry being dead|
is the notion that this is poetry being alive.
| Rule #172
|| Most poetry isn't.
| Rule #173
|| Get better. |
| Rule #174
|| Good causes. |
| Rule #175
|| Poetry's status quo: |
Those who perform cannot write;
those who write cannot perform;
those who learn cannot teach;
and, those who teach cannot learn.
| Rule #176
|| Piracy is advertising.
| Rule #177
|| Poetry is the mathematics of language.
| Rule #178
|| If you can tell it's poetry |
- Pearl's Paradox #2
| Rule #179
|| The lack of an aesthetic is, itself, an aesthetic.|
- Pearl's Paradox #3
| Rule #180
|| People who finish every project|
don't conceive many.
| Rule #181
|| Shakespeare's Question:|
WTF do you think I was doing?"
| Rule #182
|| "Poetry is a well-planned accident."|
- Pearl's Paradox #4
| Rule #183
|| "If you're not careful...|
...you might learn something here."
| Rule #184
|| Fools can be followed, forgotten or fleeced.|
| Rule #185
|| "Money is no substitute for taste."
| Rule #186
|| So proud of their dizzy display|
as they prowl through this dark neighbourhood,
these loud voices with nothing to say
will all need to be misunderstood.
| Rule #187
|| "Art is our vanguard against the mundane,|
a tin foil umbrella against the insane."
| Rule #188
|| "As an author I don't write for me.|
I write for you."
| Rule #189
|| "If you have to tell me you are a poet|
- Pearl's 5th paradox.
| Rule #190
|| Imaginative is not imaginable.
| Rule #191
|| "Poems are elliptic, not cryptic."
| Rule #192
|| There is no river.|
| Rule #193
|| "A poem is a little machine for remembering itself."|
- Don Paterson