TO THE POETRY ELITE by Walter Shulits


“Let me confess. I’m sick of these sestinas

written by youngsters in poetry workshops

for the delectation of their fellow students,

and then published in little magazines

that no one reads, not even the contributors

who at least in this omission show some taste.”

(Dana Gioia, “My Confessional Sestina”)


No, I won’t be joining your little club, your cabal, even

if you’d have me, which I doubt- not for me a clique of

clueless recluses where palace police pummel penitent

plebeians while aloof academics and addled anarchists

run rampant, the patricians of their privy council proclai-

ming that if a work is obscureincoherentincomprehensible

then it must be …genius.


Still, congratulations are in order: you’ve gerrymandered

your own alternate reality- such an isolated little isle of

incest- and proudly proclaimed this polity POETRY, a

bulwarked bastion for the martially metered, woefully woke,

the scattered, stilted and stunted, while you slam the gate

on every apostate, scissor kick every maverick, apply the

screw to any idea that’s new.


Since when must a poem have the rubric of a Rubik cube,

why does it take  a nuclear physicist with a doctorate in

chaos theory or a malingering Mensa Society member to

decipher and dissect that muddled puzzle called a ghazal

and just who banished simple rhyme and meter, punishing

us peasants for our preference for unpretentious poems:

We inarticulate hicks actually like limericks—they’re slick,

impolitic,a quick fix with no fancy tricks.


When did the slow seductive tango between poet and reader

devolve into Gen Z’ers pretendingwishing we were still in the

19th century or expressing their rage in algorithm-based Red-

Bulled rhumba rants intended to make the rest of humanity

feel guilty and when did the heart-rending expression of

emotion through simple evocative phrases become passé,

too pedestrian, an insufficient barrier to keep the unruly riff-

raff from entering POETRY’s portals so you didactic despots

concocted building codes no common contractor could

decrypt or comply with to construct the castle of his or

her dreams…but bullies beware—

Bards in bondage, hear my call-

we’re tunneling under POETRY’S wall.

No longer will we cringe and cower,

kowtow to that censorious glower.

We peasants are united as one-

the struggle for liberty has begun.


We raunchy but real rap rebels, screw the grammar jack-

hammer slammers and the spurred  herd of the spoken word

reject renounce and will raze your McMansion of medieval

mores, your abominable abode of atavistic attitudes. We

believe in feelings unalloyed facilely deployed, uncluttered

by cryptic allusions to Bosnian Baroque bronzes or Rococo

oboe oratorios—and accessible, comprehensible to the

common man.


We have veneration for the titillation of alliteration.

We don’t look askance at assonance- a poem is


We don’t give a damn if you enjamb, don’t need

the bravura about your caesura.

We never eschew the haiku— syllables few, the

message gets through, what a coup.

We fume in gloom and break out the broom for

every pantoum.

We sound the death knell for that boring-as-hell


We subpoena the sestina—guilty of poetic edema.


So it’s a fight to the death, my coalition against your coterie,

plebeians against pedantic posers. I hereby humbly declare

the establishment of THE PEOPLES’ REPUBLIC OF POETRY

Walter Shulits lives in France. He is an endurance athlete who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. After a lucrative career in creating and marketing bond investments for international pension funds, banks, and insurance companies in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, he’s retired to Provence with his wife Catherine but spends up to six months a year in beloved Hawaii.

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