“The Last Poem I’ll Ever Write” by Grant QuackenbushPosted by Rattle
THE LAST POEM I’LL EVER WRITE
MFA programs have turned poetry into an occupation, and a joke—have weakened American poetry, have desecrated it into artifact instead of the result of a soul’s progress in solitary devotion. [They] have turned it into one more subject in a university or college or private scam operation …
Arguably the worst decision I ever made was to go into the poetry biz.
Biz isn’t the right word though since there’s no money in poetry.
Clowns make more peddling balloons, and they don’t shell out x
dollars per year to read books where x is over 50,000 at New
England University. 200K to put some bullshit BA on your CV!?!?
Fuck that. It’s better to have no degree and work at a drive-thru.
Going off to college as an unwitting teenager to major in art
history or literature or cultural anthropology because it sounds
intelligent is stupid. Most likely you’ll graduate with debt up to your
jugular just to be able to count in French: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq …
Kids, don’t pay to study the humanities. They’re a financial trap.
Learn a skill that’s actually marketable, like mixology or auto-
motive repair, neither of which require an overpriced education.
Now, combine the absurd cost of tuition with the growing problem
of censorship on college campuses and it’s no wonder normal
people (if you just got offended you’re a politically correct schmuck)
question the value of taking classes taught by wackos high on Mary J.
Remind me again what I was talking about? Oh yeah: my genius deci-
sion to become a poet. Not only is it impossible to generate cash—
that is, unless you’re handed an award and land a gig at some big
university—but if you’re a conservative your career will go poof.
Vanish. All this is to say this is the last poem I’ll ever write.
Why invest time in something that will only lead to a dead end?
Xerox the above and distribute it, then, because no academic
yearbook of a press will ever publish it for fear of inciting a mob
zookeepers couldn’t keep at bay. If asked who wrote it, say: No idea.
Grant Quackenbush: “This poem is part of a series of nine double abecedarians and is the last poem from my forthcoming book, Off Topic. I finished it around February of 2020 and haven’t written a poem since. Nor do I ever plan to again. It simply isn’t worth the investment, especially nowadays with cancel culture in full effect. That said, I’m surprised the poem and book were published due to their iconoclastic content. But as thankful as I am, it’s now time to move on.” (web)
Grant Quackenbush: “I’ve been working in the service industry since I was seventeen years old. I’m now 31. Mostly this has involved working as a bus boy or dishwasher in restaurants. During that time I began to write poetry and eventually got my MFA last year from Boston University. But now, after having gotten my MFA, I’m back to working in the service industry: I’m bartending at a hotel in Tribeca. Working in the service industry has affected my poetry by making it more raw than the average poem. I also try to use common speech and punctuation, and strive to make my poetry accessible rather than opaque and academic.”
Comment from the artist, Aparna Pathak, on her selection: “I read all the poems quite a number of times and enjoyed all the philosophical, mythological, psychological or personal ways in which photograph has been interpreted. Some poems were highly emotive while others had beautiful imagery and imagination. There were quite a few poems about fears of a parent or a child, but Grant Quackenbush’s ‘Ram Tested On Mount Vert’ grabbed my attention. The very first line gave me a judder and kept me inquisitive and interested till the end even though I was aware of its mythological connection. The dilemma of mind and heart touched me immensely. Lines like, ‘Ram was to offer Billy up, or down,’ creates suspense and ‘over thorny, flowerless brambles and gopher holes ransacked by snakes, they arrived at the switchbacks that led to the ruin, and stopped,’ creates anxiety. The use of simile in ‘his knees knocking together like a colt’s trying to stand in its new world governed by gravity’ is remarkable. The ending lines leave reader thoughtful. It is a well written poem where every stanza is well composed.” (website)