Daniel Northcutt

Rookie (May 12,1984 / Riverside, California)

The Next Great Poet - Poem by Daniel Northcutt

So, I wanted to be the next great poet.
I wanted to encapsulate the American zeitgeist.
Hell, the world's zeitgeist
And I wanted to do it with savoir faire and elegance.
I wanted something that rhymed,
Because I wanted to be commended for-
Catalyzing the recrudescence of classical poetry;
Like some sort of prophesied artistic messiah;
Amalgamating the best of antiquity and contemporary stylings.

Naturally, I would include Latin.
All the best poets know some Latin.
I would channel:
The experience of Hemingway,
The honesty of Bukowski,
The hope of Angelou, phenomenal indeed,
The ambiguity of Frost,
The frustration of Dylan, both Dylans,
The vocabulary of Poe,
The sadness of Dickinson,
And so forth.
But don't forget the foreign writers,
I would be them too.
I can't think of any now;
Maybe Neruda
Anyway my poems would definitely be worldly.
After all, you can't win several Nobel's without appealing to at least the Swedes.
Doesn't matter anyway cause my work would transcend geography.

How about something complex,
Layered with meanings?
Like a performance artist that does something visceral-
And makes a deep and social point, unrelated to their corporeal acts.
I would meet famous personalities-
And they would say-
"Your work influenced me so much"
And I would respond, ever modestly,
"I wish this old poet had the words to describe how much that means to me."
But really I would hide my condescension
After all, how could such a plebian, full of populum ever understand the depth of my work?

One of my children would become a poet
But they would fall short in the end,
Forever living in my shadow.

I would tell people stories that they already knew,
But in an insightful and original way.
My poems would earn the fame of kitsch art-
And the love of unknown critics.

Someday they would read me in all the best schools.
And don't even get me started about the anthologies.
If anything they would be unable to anthologize me-
Because what poet could stand alongside my extant body of work?

My name would be followed by the words Poet Laureate,
Capitalized because I was the greatest of them.
And I would graciously, modestly, and deservedly -
Accept my due laurels.

Of course I would drink profusely.
I might even kill myself someday.
Biographies would describe me as the, not a, but the "tortured genius."
In interviews I would have unkempt hair,
But I would speak in polysyllabic words.
Without any sign of pretentiousness.
After reading my poems, people would predictably say,
"I can die happy and fulfilled now."
Then, when I am the one to die, people would read my poems aloud at my funeral,
And forever lament the day that great art died.

But here's the thing
As it turns out
People appreciate (read: love) honesty above fantasies
Besides, I was always missing two things:
Plus I'm too scared to ever kill myself
I do drink a lot though, so there's that
This doesn't even rhyme.

So, I wanted to be the next great poet.
I'll join the others and give up for a steady paycheck
And, by the God I'm too cool to believe in,
You have to follow rules-
If you're going to be the next great poet.

Comments about The Next Great Poet by Daniel Northcutt

  • (4/14/2012 1:53:00 PM)

    This is great, very entertaining. Thanks for being so honest, I give you a 10 for ambition. Now this site must have a way of getting you a nomination. Tell us how we can help, seriously we can. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 14, 2012

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