What’s so good about bad poetry?

Last weekend I was staffing our booth for Artwalk (www.artwalkinc.org) at the annual ArtCycle event in East Hollywood, and the woman in the booth next to me was writing poems for people for $1.  It was more than sweet; it was inspiring.  There she worked away on an manual typewriter.  She wrote me a poem, but I forgot to ask her about copyright so I don’t feel right reproducing it here.  I also forgot to ask her name, and it isn’t legible on the poem she signed after writing it for me, so she will have to remain anonymous for now.

Her’s was quite good poetry, by the way, so how did we get onto the topic of bad poetry?  She and I  got talking about creative practices, one thing led to another to another, and finally to my “Bad Poetry” project.  I started it two years ago, writing one bad poem a day in a little red book.  I named it “Bad Poetry” at the outset and intended to write nothing but bad poetry in it.  I feel this succeeded where some projects, for instance my attempts to write good poetry, have failed.  It was freeing and creative work should be freeing.  Attempts to write good poetry can be freeing too, I realize, but in my experience not trying to write artfully was a huge pleasure and resulted in some… bad poems.  So I succeeded.

I love the Balinese saying, “We have no art; we try to do everything as well as we can.”  But sometimes the opposite might be the case; not trying to do something well, just doing it, can result in some interesting art.

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