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This piece is about 2 printed pages long.
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Poem addressing the possibility that I’m reading this poem as part of a presentation that is directed toward graduate students, my colleagues, and some of my students
Oh, this makes me nervous! I want to be smart and funny and illuminating. I want people to enjoy this poem and feel like it was worth their time. I know some people won’t like it and that’s okay with me. In the question and answer portion of this presentation, I will be happy to address your concerns. I hope you’ll tell me about them and why you feel so strongly about this poem. Knowing you have strong feelings will make me feel better. It’s okay with me if you don’t like this. You don’t have to come up to me and say, “That was interesting” or something, you can just say you don’t like it. I’m not even sure that I like it. However, the point is really that the best way to register your displeasure with this poem is to write a formal review of it for a well-respected journal. Many of you could advance your own career and reputation by writing a review of this and, by so doing, help me advance my career and reputation. Making a living is very important and we all know that. Anyway, I hope you like this poem. I am hoping that this poem is the greatest thing you’ve ever heard.
Poem addressing some of my boring wishes
I am very interested in what you have to say about this poem. If you, for instance, have a problem with this sentence, I would like to know what it is. If you have a problem with this sentence, I would like to know why, and if it differs at all from the problems you might have had with the previous sentence. The best way to do this would be in the form of a review in a literary journal, in print or on the web. I google myself daily and will surely notice what you write. You could also e-mail me at <artisnecessary[ât]yahoo.com>
Poem addressing people who might hire me for their tenure-line teaching position but are unsure about what they’re reading
No worries. This doesn’t change the fact that I’d be a terrific teacher for you and an asset to your community. I’m a trustworthy and dependable colleague and I’ve been teaching for years as an adjunct. I get excellent student evaluations!
Poem addressing the possibility that this poem is being published as some sort of poetry broadside
I think it would be great! I could put it on my vita and you, reader of this poem, could treat these words as a sort of cultural referent point, referring others to them to show the serious degree to which you are engaged in contemporary American poetry. You may also be reading this poem as it hangs vertically on a wall! Terrific! I hope you are inside the home of a famous poet and you’re reading this as it hangs on his or her’s wall. If that’s the case, please let me know. Even better, you could write an article for a reputable journal about reading this poem as it hung inside of a famous poet’s house. Wow! That’d all feel great!
Poem addressing my children regarding my intentions as an artist, especially in this poem
I am hoping to be writing something now that you are proud of. I hope you think that this poem is courageous and written with love. I hope you realize that I’m trying to set an example of bravery, persistence, dedication, and love with this poem. I hope all of that is coming through. It is very possible that this sentence doesn’t seem brave to you at all, but I hope you’ll understand how hard it is to write a brave, decent poem. I’m trying. I hope you’ll try. I don’t mean that you should try to write a brave, decent poem, but just that when you try anything, I hope you will think of this poem and how hard that I am trying to set a good example with it.
Peter Davis’ book of poems is Hitler’s Mustache and he edited Poet’s Bookshelf: Contemporary Poets on Books that Shaped Their Art. His poems appear recently in journals like Barrelhouse, Fou, Anti-, Tarpaulin Sky, and Double Room. He lives with his wife and kids in Muncie, Indiana and teaches at Ball State University. See more at artisnecessary.com.