Today I went on a poetic binge exploring a wide range of diverse poetry sites, journals, and blogs. I was out to take in art, be exposed to creative perspectives, and appreciate the varied styles that make up the poet’s voice.
I stood humbled and in awe of the stylistic raw beauty created by so many talented poets across the globe. Yet for as many great poems I stumbled upon, I tripped over just as many poems that were crass just for the sake of being crass.
I expect to come across crass poetry. Crassness clearly has its place. “Bloodbath” by Christian Drake is a wonderful example of this (as well as any clever dirty limerick). Intentional crassness can be both powerful and effective. However, poetry that is crass without purpose or clear intent doesn’t make sense to me.
I have a hard time with an artist who jumps on stage, flashes their genitalia, throws human waste about, and calls it art. I know toddlers capable of the same thing. It just seems lazy and angsty. Like a teenage boy jumping on stage wearing all the edgy cool of the out-crowd screaming into a microphone,
PENIS! PENIS! PENIS!
and then ends his performance with showing the audience his dick.
Poetry employing this crass-for-crass style leaves me to believe that the artist is only capable of conveying the message:
I have a penis and/or a vagina, and I want you to see it and acknowledge it. Oh, and I can say the word ‘Fuck.’
It’s embarrassing and feels like a mockery of poetry and art in general.
Crass elements in poetry can be effective, powerful, beautiful, and grabbing if used with purpose. I love poetry with a little crass in its style, but when it is simply there for the sake of being there, it loses me completely.
But then again, I could be completely wrong. The music industry thrives on this dull oafishness. What are your thoughts?