“The Last Poem I’ll Ever Write” by Grant Quackenbush

Grant Quackenbush


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 …
—Franz Wright

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.

from Rattle #73, Fall 2021


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)

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