Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold – David Lohrey

Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

I sent my new poem to an old friend who replied:
“I know nothing of poetry.”
Another said about the same. “I don’t read the stuff.
Sorry.” It got me to thinking.

Had I sent in a stock tip, they would have rewarded me.
I might have received a bottle of Chablis, maybe even a good one,
had I sent in trading data on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Who would have said, “I’m not into making money.”?

But one comes to learn an awful truth about one’s friends.
Not just their indifference; that’s painful enough.
No. It’s that for them poetry is something akin to masturbation.
They don’t want to hear about it. It’s an embarrassment.

My friends are always buying or selling. If I had produced a tomato,
I’d have been advised to set up a stand on the sidewalk.
The price of tomatoes is high, asparagus even higher,
but poetry is nearly worthless; like trying to sell one’s teeth.

Poetry is not a commodity. My friends are merchants.
It’s a shameful action, like going to Confession.
Can you sell your sins? How much do one’s dreams weigh?
Nobody wants to watch a friend display himself.

It’s not that poetry is disgusting. But it may be shameful.
It’s seen as a waste of time: not an adult activity, not a good investment,
something more akin to gathering pine cones or pressing leaves in an album,
i.e., kid stuff, or a hobby for little old ladies.

I feel like a cat taking a bloody mouse to her master.
As I drop my poem at my friend’s feet, she gives it a glance
and sneers: “What’s that for? It’s not very pleasant.
Your job is to please me. Go play in the garden.”

That’s the response of my once best friend. She sees herself as an artist
or at least claims to be artistic. She wouldn’t treat a painting the way she scorns poetry.
But then again you can own an oil. You can hang it.
Even better you can resell it.

Stocks and paintings are good investments, like real estate.
Cars and furniture lose value, more like a poem.
They’re best when new, but with art, the worth is in its place,
they say. It’s not just beauty; it’s location, location, location.

Poetry is a dying art, especially when the artistic disown it.
They’d rather have crème brûlée or pear mousse with walnuts.
It’s not only prettier but something sweet. Poetry is no treat, and poets
are a nuisance. They have the absurd idea that what they do has value.


[David Lohrey is the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. He is also an editor for Sudden Denouement and a mentor for me personally – Jasper Kerkau]

42 thoughts on “Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold – David Lohrey

  1. I think that poetry like any other art form is often understood by a few. There are family members who probably stalk my site and read my stuff but I wouldn’t be comfortable with them reading because I don’t think they will be able to understand a lot of my content. Similarly with poetry because it has it’s own niche there are people that will love it or hate it. Essentially you’re writing for those who get you and that makes it worth your while. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said! I’ve basically given up asking family and friends if they’ve read my posts or what they thought of them. My mother is the only one to ask if I’m considering putting together a book of poems.
    Sometimes I think it’s much more basic, this distaste of poetry. I think that the majority of people have only read what they were assigned in school and now only read Facebook posts. To bridge their tolerance (not love) of the declarative sentence to poetry, which pushes the boundaries of language is simply too much to ask.
    We will remain marginalized and rage against the dying of the light. Introspection, catharsis, exploring the human condition, and resonating with like-minded poets is reward enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think perhaps that those who dismiss poetry out of hand are those for whom it is frightening – it opens up places in one’s soul that cannot be glossed over in the same manner than an oil can. Even if the painter has bared his or her wounds in the painting, the viewer can ignore the deeper meanings and look at the colors, etc.
    I also agree that poetry – at least much of poetry – is highly political and thought provoking, and those who don’t want to acknowledge the layers of emotion and difficulty with which life is fraught are ill equipped to tolerate it.
    Thanks for sharing and your insightful words!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your vibrant, beautiful, meaningful words remind me of others: “Men had always been the reciters of poetry in the desert.” – Michael Ondaatje Not in the citadel, but in the desert, as citadels have been built by the homo economicus.
    I gave my dreams wrapped up in a few tender lines to someone. He dropped them in the grass…
    Nevertheless, poetry is what we make of it and protean-like art, maybe dying or maybe flying…Your “Never-Mind poetry” is flying in a whirlpool of images and dreams that become true when pierce someone’s eyes and heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And this is why anytime you like one of my pieces, to me only then is it a true winner. You’re unlike anyone else in SD. Everyone here has their own unique voice, of course, it’s just that yours is the voice of all those spirits speaking through you at the seance of your desk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is loaded for me, since I have published others’ poetry in the past. Same goes for my own published works. The markets are exponentially smaller than fiction, but I feel the strongest community. Hosting and attending readings, workshops, and the like have broadened my perspective of the communal aspects. I do not think its a. ethical and b. artistic when ‘pop poets’ who sell tens of thousands of units act with the same pretentious air as say a Billy Collins, Toni Morrison, etc. Most are pandering to the youth in very uncouth, sexual, and sympathetic themes, which, in a side-by-side comparison to say, Whitman or Blake, would be thrown out in a matter of seconds. Poetry is, by nature, by low-sell low, and anything you see at Barnes & Noble is either canonized reprints or the aforementioned poets. Every day, I fight an uphill battle publishing and selling work of wonderful artists, and I certainly give credit to those who have/are doing it better than me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Poetry has a bad rep. It’s considered high-brow, difficult, undecipherable, confusing, too long, too short, too anything. No one wants to take a chance. They remember classes where poetry drove them insane and they were taught to hate it. The poetry section in Barnes is small, the prices too high for what people believe they are getting, if they stop to look at all. Some believe that if the words don’t rhyme, it’s not poetry at all. People are TAUGHT, by the society in which they live, to BELIEVE that poetry doesn’t matter. When society takes the time to teach the masses to look the other way, that’s a sure sign that whatever they are dismissing is IMPORTANT. People don’t get that. I’m with Holly…there are those of us dreamers and the like, who see that poetry matters…in a very big way. This kind of thing happens with other forms of art as well. Art is a dangerous thing. When a culture labels, makes fun of, downplays and demeans art, it’s only because it is afraid of it. People are taught that art is a hobby and not a way of living. When a government/society puts that much effort into trying to kill something, you know it’s important. When societies begin to fail, the first ones arrested are the artists. Governments know the power of art and that’s why it is treated the way it is. They are afraid of it. It doesn’t follow the rules, the status quo…art is POLITICAL and can open eyes. Not allowed. Never allowed.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You remind me that we all have friends who view publishing our poetry as akin to opening our underwear drawer or medicine cabinet in public– unseemly, perplexing, best kept in privacy. They have never seen their soul in words, never heard breath in a sentence, never understood the burning drive to spill emotion into ink.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Mesmerizing and thought-provoking David!
    To the friends of David Lohrey, I say this: there is poetry everywhere around you. In a Cohen song, the voice of a child, an interview with Ali, a soldier’s call home. A play by Sheppard, an honest protest, a eulogy to an old friend, a Tarantino script. If you think these things are meaningless, we should all just hang it up; what is poetry?

    Liked by 1 person

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