The Barbaric Writers

By Daniel Borzutzky Daniel Borzutzky

“This is my last communiqué from the planet of the monsters.”
                                                                 Roberto Bolaño, Distant Star

When I watched the Barbaric Writers defecate on my
manuscript, I felt a great sense of relief, a great sense of
fraternity with these men who loved literature enough to
destroy it, and I recalled a poem I had once written, but
never had the confidence to publish, about a so-called
poet who shat himself into a toilet, only to float on his
back as torrential downpours of power filled the bowl and drowned
him. I have always know that constipation is essential to
poetry, though what I did not realize, until recently,
was that poetry itself is repulsive. Words on their own are
bad enough. But when placed alongside other words, when formed
into rhythmic lines and stanzas: no act of creation is more
hideous. In the salons, I have often watched, before my turn
came on, our local poets reciting their verses. They speak
politely, and with grace, to an audience that sips wine and
chuckles at the words that flow not from their mouths, but from their
plugged-up behinds. What a holy mockery of literature!
Were the barbarians to see such a spectacle, no
theater walls could stand the shock of their laughter. No, poetry
is not what I want. Only defecation on poetry. For
after years of humiliation, I have finally learned that
to humanize our poems, we must shit on them. We must shit
freely, with arms raised, as detectives in blue sport coats examine
our feces for sustainability, all the while fighting
off other detectives in bluer sport coats who take our
poetic leakage to their laboratories to search for
parasitic demons, or diamonds, depending on the angle.
We smear what drips from our self-inflicted wounds onto our verses,
combining blood and ink into new poetic forms in which we
rub our faces, the better to smell our disgusting children with,
the better to drool on our disgusting children with; and once we
have bled and drooled and driveled, we declare our poems complete, the
better to wipe our asses with, before submitting them for
publication. We smear our typewriters with pus and semen, and
chastise any fool crass enough to declare himself a poet,
an offense punishable by confinement in a cage
surrounded by Barbaric Writers who expectorate between
the distinguished author’s eyes, his hands tied behind his back to
prevent him from cleaning his face. For poetry is hard work! It
is hard to create such filthy, vile putrescence.

Daniel Borzutzky, “The Barbaric Writers” from The Ecstasy of Capitulation, published by BlazeVox Books. Copyright © 2007 by Daniel Borzutzky. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVOX, 2007)

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Poet Daniel Borzutzky

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Daniel  Borzutzky


Daniel Borzutzky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Chilean heritage. He has published a collection of fiction, Arbitrary Tales (2005), a poetry chapbook, Failure in the Imagination (2007), and two full-length volumes of poetry, The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007), and The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011).

Borzutzky’s work is often humorous and satirizes political figures and contemporary culture. Amy Groshek, reviewing . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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