Shane Clements: The Instruction Manual

=================================== Fall '11 TOC

for Kenneth Koch

If you want to become a famous poet
change your name to something
people will remember, or
better yet, take the name
of a dead poet, as the finest
often are.

But don't pick anyone too famous--
It will be hard to convince strangers
that you wrote, "To be, or not to be? That is the question."
Even people who don't read
recognize these words
though they may not know
it is Shakespeare.

It's also best to choose a poet
that you're comfortable with
as a human being, one with a life
you could imagine living.
People will remember a name
like Ezra Pound but it will be hard
to reconcile your past as a traitor
and anti-Semite, your voluminous
list of publications and knowledge
of poetry considered.

Whoever you choose should write poems
you feel you could've written. That you didn't
is of little importance


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