Is this high-brow poetry — or pretentious garbage?

Poets are crazy. This much I have learned.

In my endless quest for the truth, I have discovered more Gertrude Stein-esque free verse.

I did so after writing the post, Gertrude Stein is a literary TRAIN WRECK.

I leave it up to you:

Is the poem below high-brow literary genius that only members of Mensa can understand?

Or is it pretentious trash?



criminal beginning

shut, destroy us

the shoe display outside

arise, contract

undertake exactly

marry powerful?





your trial, his expression

production detail




sort, generate, combine

bottom quality


and start


This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday

11 responses to “Is this high-brow poetry — or pretentious garbage?

  1. Edioe

    Garbage it is. I made it up on the spot, but I’m sure it could be published and praised for it’s insightful soul searching gobbledygook!.. ye rise ye rise!


  2. Edioe

    Titillatingly weaken
    Of perpetual indignation or alabaster ambivalence
    Ye rise in good faith, ye fall ye fall
    Her feign of civility through chatoyant squint
    No melody or memory, no whisper only fate
    Ye fall in good faith, ye rise ye rise

    Garbage or genius?

    No goggling!


  3. Pingback: Found art, literary garbage and Spam | The Red Pen of Doom

  4. Ann Kittenplan

    The “not even trying” comment above reminded me of what somebody once said about Beefheart, and many consider him to be a genius. Beefheart I don’t get at all but the people who do, I don’t think they’re kidding.

    Maybe it’s the same with this.


  5. I’m sorry, but I had to go with Snooki on this one. I hate what some people call art and poetry, and that’s not even trying. If we were to compare that poem to a known genius like Shakespeare and a known idiot like Snooki, everyone would assume Snooki wrote it. Trash.


  6. That’s not free verse; it’s Language Poetry.

    The poet Jack Grapes teaches a technique called “Absence of Field” in his classes, in which students write words with no context, no field. Words may even be scattered around the paper without set lines or spacing. It is similar to modern abstract art. I don’t get anything from reading these poems, personally, so I understand the claim of literary pretense. I did learn something from the exercise, however: Writing it is enormously fun :)

    And, of course, what you have above is also a “found poem,” another perfectly cromulent form… Have you tried submitting anywhere? :)


  7. Just so you know, I went and googled him. Just to make sure you weren’t making that up.


    • This is the funny thing: I just threw a random photo of a poet in there. He didn’t write that high-brow trash.

      I took a spam comment, added hard returns, killed some words and added a title. The silly thing is people were cool with it being a real poem. I figured everybody would see right through it, that they’d all say, “Listen, Mister, that’s not a real poem, it’s gibberish,” and I would say, “Yep, that’s just some spam I shoved into a little black dress.” But nobody called BS on it.


  8. Eh. I will have to confess that I don’t like that.


    The translation is fairly clumsy, but you can see the rhymes and the meter in the original. Sorry, but that poem alone makes his reputation deserved.


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