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A Poetic Heretic’s Poetry Tips

a villanelle inspired by Dr. Salemi’s essay
“Poetry As The Philosophers Stone”

Don’t listen to the howl of highbrow spiel
From preachy creatures out to flatten flair.
Don’t let the sunbeam-zappers sap your zeal.

Don’t bow to scoffing boffins. Never kneel
Before a do-it-my-way doctrinaire.
Don’t listen to the howl of highbrow spiel.

Don’t let scholastic hacks attack what’s real.
Don’t let their fuzzy fancies fog your air.
Don’t let the sunbeam-zappers sap your zeal.

Don’t let rampaging sages suck appeal
And cheer from your Parnassian affair.
Don’t listen to the howl of highbrow spiel.

Dismiss all sonnet-slating squawk and squeal.
Just flounce on past each canon-trouncing glare.
Don’t let the sunbeam-zappers sap your zeal.

Now arbiters of art have struck a deal
With joy-destroying peddlers of despair,
Don’t listen to the howl of highbrow spiel.
Don’t let the sunbeam-zappers sap your zeal.

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Buzz Words 

I pick words from the grapevine, plump and sweet,
Then roll their ripened wonder round my tongue;
Extract their zesty essence till they greet
The senses with intoxicating fun.

I spill their fruity beauty out for all
To revel in their merriment and glee.
Linguistic thrills will cheer as they enthrall
With dizzy draughts of luscious poetry.

I aim to quench the parched and thirsty heart,
To drench the bone-dry dream that turned to dust;
To flood the blood with love from Cupid’s dart
With juicy joy infused with spice and lust.

My boozy muse is cued to choose words fated
To leave the logophile inebriated.

First published in Snakeskin

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Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition, and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.


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34 Responses

  1. Paddy Raghunathan

    Terrific writing, Susan! Love your play with words in both the villanelle and the sonnet.

    Your poetry leaves me inebriated alright.

    Best regards,

    Paddy

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paddy, thank you very much! I’m glad to hear you’re high on my poetry… and I’m pleased to say, the only side effect is pure joy. I hope you’re still smiling.

      Reply
  2. Phil S. Rogers

    “Don’t listen to the howl of highbrow spiel.” Fantastic line, and not just related to poetry!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Phil, you’re right – that particular line should be indelibly ingrained in our psyche as we gaze upon the ‘new normal’ with glazed eyes. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Tonia, thank you… ‘fun’ and ‘reading’ (especially when heard singing side-by-side) are my favorite words. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the poems.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Rohini, it’s always lovely to hear from you. And I know, you know all about poetic joy… your latest poem is jam-packed with it. Thank you very much indeed! Keep writing and smiling. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Tremendous stuff, as we have come to expect. In that first poem, look how Susan has used embedded rhyme (highbrow…howl, preachy…creatures, scoffing…boffins, hacks…attacks, rampaging…sages, flounce…trouncing) straight through the entire piece. And this is separate from the alliterative groupings such as “flatten flair,” “fuzzy fancies fog,” “arbiters of art,” and the totally sibilant line of:

    “Dismiss all sonnet-slating squawk and squeal.”

    And that second poem “Buzz Words” is one of the most eloquent answers to the barebones starvation of modernism that I have ever read.

    Reply
    • Joshua C. Frank

      Yes, I notice that Susan uses these techniques in her poetry in general. It was by reading her work that I learned to use these myself. In fact, anyone who wants to improve his own poetry can learn a lot just by reading Susan’s.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, what more could I ask for – thank you for your astute observations and your continued encouragement and inspiration!

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, I’m thrilled you liked the poems and even more thrilled that you’re steadfast in your creative vision. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Joshua C. Frank

    Love these! Each one is a snappy, melodious comeback to the pushers of bad prose under the guise of “free verse,” those “joy-destroying peddlers of despair” who would insist that you must write without verbal embellishments.

    But I have to say the second is my favorite of the two, with its image of words as plump grapes to be picked and made into fine wine. Your poems certainly fit that bill!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joshua, thank you very much – I’m so glad you enjoyed the poems, especially ‘Buzz Words’… I had such fun composing that one, and I love your observation.

      The villanelle speaks to anyone forcing their way, and ONLY their way, upon another… whether modern or traditional, approaches to poetry shouldn’t start with one size fits all – especially with the chosen subject. My villanelle was inspired by Dr. Salemi’s latest essay… that’s what I like about this site… it’s a constant inspiration. I’m glad you’re a big part of that inspiration. Thanks again.

      Reply
  5. Shaun C. Duncan

    With their archaic forms and dizzying deployment of poetic devices (even by your usual standards), these poems are everything a modern credentialed critic would despise, which is to say they are sensational.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Shaun, I am over the moon with your comment. To write poetry that ‘a modern credentialed critic would despise’ is something of a triumph, and I’m thrilled to receive such high praise. Thank you very much indeed! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Mary Gardner

    Susan, you hit the bull’s-eye as always. Viva the Art of Classical Poetry!
    I agree with Joshua, who wrote, “[A]nyone who wants to improve his own poetry can learn a lot just by reading Susan’s.” I turn to your poetry to hone my own.
    Also, I can’t wait to drop “boffin” and “slate” into a conversation.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mary, what a beautiful and encouraging comment. Thank you so very much. I look forward to the words “boffin” and “slate” singing from more poems on the SCP. Although this is my thirteenth year in Texas, I can be so darn British at times. My husband and I are always learning new words from one another. I think my poetry is becoming a strange brew of TexLish… a language I’m embracing… involuntarily. LOL

      Reply
  7. Mark Stellinga

    Susan, such a deserving target to so relentlessly pelt with the utter disdain so many of us genuine poets share for what can easily be mistaken for invoices! God bless you 🙂

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mark, thank you most kindly for your support and encouragement… I’m glad to know there are many fellow poetic heretics sharing their flair in a world full of bloviating boffins ready to thwart freedom of thought at every turn.

      Reply
  8. Norma Pain

    These two poems are so much fun to read, especially “Buzz Words”. I enjoyed both of them so much. Thank you Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, you are most welcome. Your poems always give me something to think about… with a smile to go along with the message. Thank you, and never stop weaving your poetic wonder!

      Reply
  9. Roy Eugene Peterson

    The first poem is a superb statement for poets writing in their own voice at the level that makes them the most comfortable and productive paying no attention to the fashionable critics and approaching their work by not letting ” the sunbeam-zappers sap your zeal.” This applies not only to modern poetry, but also to those who delight in zinging efforts not considered erudite. Yes, Emily Dickinson is one of my favorites along with Robert Frost.
    What a fantastic concluding two lines in the second poem about a “boozy muse” choosing words to leave the “logophile inebriated!”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Roy, you have summed up my poetic intention beautifully, and I thank you for that. Your fine eye for detail and your encouragement is always appreciated.

      Reply
  10. Paul Freeman

    Loved ‘Buzz Words’.

    Did you consider ‘juice of joy’ instead of ‘juicy joy’?

    Thanks for the reads.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      You are most welcome, Paul. I’m glad you liked ‘Buzz Words’. I didn’t consider ‘juice of joy’… but, I am now. Thank you!

      Reply
  11. Cynthia Erlandson

    The last line of “Buzz Words” is especially delightful!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cynthia, I thoroughly appreciate your kind words. Thank you very much!

      Reply
  12. Yael

    Susan thank you very much for spilling the fruity beauty out for the rest of us. I suspect I may be a logophile because I sure enjoy this kind of inebriation which you provide here. I always look forward to more of your ” intoxicating fun”.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, it’s always lovely to receive your appreciation. I know you’re a logophile and I’m reveling in that fact. I will endeavor to supply you with draughts of fruity beauty for a long time to come! Thank you!

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you kindly, C.B. A gaggle of hugs and pugs… you’ve made me giggle! 😉

      Reply
  13. David Whippman

    Well written, so true; and I love the phrase “sunbeam-zappers!”

    Reply

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