Now let us sport while we may…I love that so many people are commenting on Levine’s distinction between “poetry temporal” and “poetry eternal” and my own volley against using criticism as a staging ground to launch one’s own poetry bottlerocket. It seems, though, that the very dialogue itself is caught up in the temporal rather than the eternal. So, since my time here in the blogosphere is limited, I’d like to change up the dialogue by asking what kinds of poems will be of interest in a thousand years?

I personally think that the stuff we think of as poetry will have blown by the wayside and been replaced by something with more staying power. I don’t know what that is, but if I were to wager, I’d say that my three hottest picks for what will survive as poetry one thousand years from now are:
Thriller by Michael Jackson (and it may be that only the lyrics that Vincent Price recites will be remembered)
Rapture by Blondie (like Thriller, a prophetic vision)
Ya Mama by Wuf Ticket (everyone likes a good throw-down)
Have I left out anything that might obviously be considered poetry of the late 20th/early 21st centuries?
You live in a tree; you eat coconuts!
And your whole family's got buffalo butts.
When you sit down, you need TWO seats.
Extra strong to hold all that meat.

A thousand years will not improve upon the timeless classics of this era, mais non?

Originally Published: August 1st, 2008

Born in Albany, Georgia, D. A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a...

  1. August 1, 2008

    No future reconstruction of our era will be complete or even possible without "The Song of the Prune".

  2. August 1, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    This is great, D.A.!
    Nice change of disc.

  3. August 1, 2008
     Chris Piuma

    Why on earth should I care what readers in a thousand years should think of today's poetry? That's the business of readers a thousand years from now to decide, should they be so lucky to exist and be able to make such choices. Will they be judging our poetry based on what the people who live a thousand years from them would like? When do we finally get to enjoy poetry?

  4. August 1, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Hellz yeah, this is my kind of thread.
    most of the songs sung by Frank Sinatra on Songs for Young Lovers (lyrics by Rodgers/Hart, Porter, the Gershwins, et al.)
    Prince, Sign o' the Times
    the oeuvres of Lil Wayne & Ghostface Killah
    "A True Account of Talking to the Sun on Fire Island" (Author Unknown)
    Jimmy Carter, "Always a Reckoning"
    the collected work of Jeremy Prynne

  5. August 1, 2008
     Henry Gould

    nobody - I mean nobody - is stopping you from enjoying poetry.
    It's just that, as Anna Akhmatova put it (trans. by Judith Hemshemeyer) :
    "Gold rusts and steel decays,
    Marble crumbles away. Everything is on the verge of death.
    The most reliable thing on earth - sorrow,
    And the most enduring - the all-powerful word." - 1945

  6. August 2, 2008
     Rich Villar

    I enjoy poetry.
    Specifically, I enjoy the post-disco electronic confessionalism of Boy George and Culture Club's "Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me," a tour-de-force love poem centered around the futility of words in the modern age. A poem destined, ironically, to be remembered for a thousand years.
    I know this because the poet has helpfully put the phrase "a thousand years" in the lyrics!
    words are few I have spoken
    I could waste a thousand years
    wrapped in sorrow words are token
    come inside and catch my tears

  7. August 2, 2008

    Can't think of a song I hate more than Rapture!
    Levine's poem eternal/temporal seems a bit obvious. Of course we have to keep our noses down and not get distracted by pobiz, not even by gettint published in the New Yorker. But I think that thinking about the poem eternal is just crippling to a writer. If I thought about producing something eternal I'd write nothing.

  8. August 4, 2008

    I don't think the "eternal" thing means people should try to write something really grand and great, but that people should feel free to write whatever, without worrying about what other people think.

  9. August 5, 2008
     D. A. Powell

    Yes, Matt, you're right. Write whatever, to hell with whether or not anyone wants to read it. That's the beauty of blogs, apparently.