My brother introduced me to a poet named Taylor Mali. Two of the poems off his album ‘Poems from the Like Free Zone’ struck me particularly closely, and I thought you all would also get a kick out of them. There’s a YouTube video of one, called “The The Impotence of Proofreading”; the other I only found in text format. Enjoy!
The second is called “As far as words go, or, How to revise your paper”
First of all, find a better title.
And make it more like yourself,
inventive, a bit punchy,
but good at heart.
The real problem is
you’re not telling me enough
about far too much.
So reach for the pen,
the one with ink as red as your blood
and tell me much more,
but about much less.
Sharpen your mind as if it were a pencil,
whet and hone it to its finest point.
Then, as you write, press harder,
Leave the imprint of your words
so that they can still be read on the
under pages of a loose leaf pad.
If some of your sentences are long, amusing puzzles
with a syntactic complexity that rivals the brain,
make others short.
If your paper were to catch fire,
make your introduction the paragraph
you would rush to save first.
And as far as words go,
mix the luscious Latinate ones
with spicy bits and gritty chunks
or good Germanic stuff.
Luxuriate in the romance of all languages;
make them all your own tongue.
Revise and rewrite, and switch around and scratch things out
(using carets, arrows, and asterisks)
until you stumble at last on the eloquent.
© Taylor Mali (What Learning Leave, Hanover Press, 2002)