Howie Good

The State of Poetry

A poet whose work I admire announces on Facebook the recurrence of her brain tumor. Another has already been admitted to hospice care. A third, a clear case of burnout, is giving up writing to attend mortuary school. And people wonder if poetry is dead!


The doctor looks up from studying the x-rays of my battered and crumbling spine and asks, “Do you do heavy labor for a living?” I almost laugh. Do I do heavy labor? No – unless you consider sitting hunched over a desk every day for most of the day, straining to lift words onto a page, heavy labor.


Then there are the times when I feel cast out, abandoned, a mutineer marooned on a speck in the ocean and forced to watch from far off as words, like the black ships of Magellan’s armada, their sails puffed out and all their flags flying, plunge over the edge of the world.

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