“I’ve just found out I’m not the nation’s poet laureate.
“I made a great effort. I put up a good fight.
“But instead the job went to a guy named Charles Wright.
The preceding stanza should tell you I got hosed. I would have made a great poet laureate. But, alas, the good folks at the Library of Congress didn’t seem to think so and it is their vote that counts. I think they were swayed by the fact that Wright, a retired professor at the University of Virginia, has won a Pulitzer Prize and a bunch of other awards for his poetry.
Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was quoted as saying Wright “has spent a lifetime refining language to create poetry of tremendous evocative power.”
OK, fine. But I would remind the powers-that-be that I am not exactly poetic chopped liver myself. I refined a lot of tremendous evocative power as editor of one of nation’s foremost high school newspapers, The Russell Wildcat. And it didn’t take me a lifetime, just my senior year.
In the intervening time, I have devoted my life’s work to assisting our intrepid public servants under the Gold Dome in the discharge of their solemn duties. That has kept me from concentrating on my goal of becoming the nation’s poet laureate. With all due respect, I’m not sure Wright has labored under similar pressure.
In spite of the long, grueling hours I have put into this sometimes thankless task of providing advice and counsel to my friends in the Legislature, I have still managed to knock out a lot of really good poems. I don’t make a big deal out of it because of my God-given modesty but, hopefully, the world will soon discover that I can easily hang with Wright and Dr. Seuss and all the other renowned poets of our time. Consider my paean to the recently-passed gun bill:
“We have a new gun law in Georgia that I have written about.
“We can now arm ourselves in church. Of that, there is no doubt.
“Applause to a legislator from Pickens County is due.
“It was his bright idea. Rick Jasperse, Rick Jasperdo.”
And there is this canto which I call, “How Government Works.” I am told it is a particular favorite of many lawmakers:
“Our ethics legislation is just fine. Please don’t rock the boat.
“Yes, I play golf with a lobbyist but it won’t affect my vote.
“Ours is a case of great mutual affection.
“They give me dollars and I win re-election.”
Poetry is also a wonderful way to bridge the ideological gaps that may exist between us and to create an aura of mutual respect for one another’s views, no matter how disparate. That is why I penned the following:
“Hail! Hail! To the Liberal Weenie.
“I wish they thought me not such a meanie.
“They are always covering Obama’s tush
“By blaming everything on George W. Bush.
“For them, there is no in-betweeny.”
And I don’t write Pulitzer Prize material? Get real.
Poetry is not as easy as White and I make it look. For one thing, you don’t just sit down and rhyme stuff.
There are many different schools of poetry, from modernism to romanticism to surrealism through which we choose to shape our innermost thoughts and plumb our emotional depths. In my case, my poetry has been heavily influenced by the school of laundryism, meaning that whether I write it or rhyme it, I am almost guaranteed to get somebody’s shorts in a wad. For example:
“There was an old woman who lived in a Guatemalan shoe.
“She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
“So she sent them to our border
“And told the president he oughta
“Admit them and Honduran children, too.”
Frankly, it feels good to wax poetic for a change. It certainly eases the pain of not being named our nation’s poet laureate. I wish Wright all the best in his new assignment, and to show there are no hard feelings, I respectfully dedicate this poem to him:
“You got a job that I would like to have gotten.
“But that’s okay; sometimes life can be rotten.
“While you may be the master of the poetic meter
“Being a much-beloved columnist makes my life just as
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Ga. 31139.