Intellectual Snobbery and the Poetry Police

A while back, I had a run in with the Poetry Police. I got pulled over for excessive adjectives. The officer liked my poem but wrote me a ticket for too many modifiers. He said it was necessary if I wanted to be a serious poet.

Bah! I had to laugh, which confirms that I am not a serious poet, but rather a seriously lighthearted one. In response to my poem, Symphonic Forest, the gentleman wrote:

Essentially, I like this poem. However, it gets bogged down and diluted a bit with the use of too many adjectives. Wordiness might be forgiven, given the nature of a symphonic score in terms of notes. But the thing about telling rather than showing is that it leaves very little space for the reader to expand his/her participation in the art of reading poetry.

The comment itself wasn’t necessarily that bad and I really wasn’t offended. I have received far sharper criticisms of my work than this. Being an avid and dedicated student of everything poetry, I am well aware of the academic, scholarly, or conventional recommendation to eliminate adjectives from prose and poetry, and to use the technique called show, don’t tell. So I knew where he was coming from, but I also knew how such scholarly admonitions are often taken to extremes by overly zealous writers and then misapplied.

So fair enough, I made my response:

Thanks for essentially liking my poem and commenting on it. I disagree with you on the adjectives. The number of all adjectives and adverbs together is 18, and all the nouns (37) and verbs (18) together are 55. Most of the 18 adjectives and adverbs used are specifically needed, such as the numbers and time and place modifiers that clarify and detail information that cannot be shown. However, the gerunds should be eliminated. The rest of the poem is saturated in strong nouns and verbs that more than compensate.

All was fine, until I got a response back from him. He was upset that I thought 18 modifiers to 37 nouns were not excessive. By his standards and those he had learned from the accepted poetry elite, this was still a far too excessive ratio, never mind what the individual poem set out to do.

I then responded:

Who in the world are these people who think that they can set irrefutable standards upon poetry and then declare that their own invented or arrived at standards are the only proper and correct ones for poetry?

Poetry has suffered and fallen out of favor with the people because literary snobbery has railroaded the art and made it untouchable and esoteric. I’m part of a movement of poets and poetry for the people, for those who once again just want to enjoy sounds, language, word-art and word-textures, beats and cadences, rhymes and all that makes poetry great.

We enjoy all poetry—contemporary, modern, experimental, classical and traditional—and we put no constraints on anyone as to what is or is not a proper poem.

Some will say we do a disservice to poetry. I say they do a disservice to poetry by wanting it to conform to their modern expectations. They have turned millions of readers away from the art. People hate poetry because it is not fun, it is difficult, esoteric, cryptic, and out of touch.

We are promoting poetry and the writing arts in English worldwide. We are reaching people—people who love poetry and want to be a part of a poetry movement that demands accessible poetry that is rich and layered but can be understood and enjoyed.

His next response was even more livid, so I decided to be more direct and clear in my response:

The extremism of intellectual snobbery stole the art of poetry away from the people and we are a movement of people taking poetry back as an art form to be shared and enjoyed amongst the people in open forums like it used to be in the ages before it was hijacked. The folks who sat in pubs, clubs and cafés and performed their poetry like we are doing again today did not send it through some literary perfection and acceptance process where it could be signed off by the intellectual elite who were in control of what poetry is or is not supposed to be.

Some of my favorite poems, the most well beloved of ages, widely published and shared around the world and in the highest literary and academic circles, defy and break the modern rules of poetry time and again.

Why? Because what mattered was the heart and presentation of the poem, and if a poem worked with a few extra adjectives, then darn it, it worked, so accept it and enjoy it—quit analyzing it to shreds and making it untouchable to the common man and woman.

Then I got the bright idea of selecting a beloved poet of the recent past, the modern era, and breaking down one of his popular poems into adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs just like I had done to my poem, just to see how well it would match up to the exacting standards of the Poetry Police.

The first well known poem I came across had 14 adjectives and adverbs, 17 nouns, and 14 verbs for a ratio of 14 to 31. The ratio for my poem was 18 to 55. So this modern poet’s ratio was worse than the ratio for my poem, Symphonic Forest.

So who is this supposed miserable poet who defied convention and the Poetry Police by using all this weak and ineffective verbiage in his poem? How can he claim to be a poet? He has not met the rocket science standards of poetry. Surely this is some back alley poem by an illiterate person claiming to be a poet.

What celebrated poem is this? It is, The Back Door.

And who is this celebrated poet?

Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, Ted Kooser is one of Nebraska’s most highly regarded poets and a Poet Laureate of the United States. He earned a BS at Iowa State University in 1962 and the MA at the University of Nebraska in 1968. He is the author of ten collections of poetry and winner of the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for poetry. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. His poems appear regularly in textbooks and anthologies currently in use in secondary schools and college classrooms across the country. He has earned too many awards and distinctions to list here and won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He recently taught as a Visiting Professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska — Lincoln.

So it was Ted Kooser, a distinguished scholar of academia itself, who dared to write this poetry that didn’t conform to the extremist’s notions and presumptions of what academia’s standards were supposed to be.

No, it is not academia’s fault that the Poetry Police exist and fight against the art and craft of poetry; it is those who take academia to an extreme that fight against the rest. Ted Kooser was a man considered to be a poet of the people who also achieved high academic and scholarly standards and it didn’t ruin him.

So if you ever run into the Poetry Police and intellectual academic snobbery, remember not to blame all academia for the extremism of a few lest you become a rebel without a cause and find yourself fighting against the art and craft of poetry from the other extreme. *****

by: DE Navarro, © 2014, NavWorks Press. Permission is granted for this essay, Intellectual Snobbery and the Poetry Police, to be copied and posted or published freely anywhere as long as this byline, copyright mark, link, and permission statement are included with the essay.

Recent Poems

I’m back active again and I’ve written a number of good poems. My work seems to be maturing still even 40 years after starting to write poetry. Here are some of the recent poems you can check out for free:


October Moon Dance

When Beauty Arrives

Treasures of Wonder

Day’s Eyes

Yonder Pond

I Looked


Some of these won contests and/or honors.

All of them have been reader favorites, so I am well pleased.

Thanks for visiting my active poetry page to read these poems.

Newly Published Work

Great news! I’ve had work published in three volumes in the past several months, one in May (which was actually finished and printed in July due to technical printing errors) one published in June, and one published in August.

My poem, “Going Home” was published in May (printed in July) in the anthology, A Poetry Garden, ISBN: 979-8504970981.

My poem, “Warning: Automated Re-Deconstruction Ahead” was published in June in the anthology, Revision’s End, ISBN: 979-8548002587.

Six of my poems appear in the Voracious Polyglots Anthology Volume 1, Pangea Poetry: Bringing the World Back Together, as follows: Three Czech haiku with English translations: 1) “making puddles…”; 2) “cloudy morning…”; 3) “pandemic…”. Two Japanese haiku with English translations: 1) “morning fog…”; 2) “haiku…”. And one Portuguese poem with English translation: “Curse of the Spanish Armada by a Dying Sailor”. The ISBN is 979-8514228010 (there have been some problems with printing and editions, so it may change or be updated).

You can sample the poems at the following links (click on the titles):

Going Home
Warning: Semi-Automated Re-Deconstruction Ahead
Czech haiku: making puddles…
Czech haiku: cloudy morning…
Czech haiku: pandemic…
Japanese haiku: morning fog…
Japanese haiku: haiku…
Portuguese poem: Curse of the Spanish Armada by a Dying Sailor

I have a background in linguistics and translation of written texts, so I am proficient at translating into various languages. But don’t ask me to “speak” in any of these languages, I have no aptitude for verbal communication in foreign languages due to my slow ear, as they call it. I even have a hard time listening to people speak in English if they do not pronounce words with proper inflection and annunciate clearly. It’s hard for me to understand people who speak English with thick accents.

But it is a whole different world for me when things are written down, even in foreign languages with different characters or letters of the alphabet. For some reason I have no problem seeing different languages and therefore being able to read and understand, and further, to translate.

So, enjoy these poems. By the way, I always ask a native speaker in the foreign language to read my translation and comment so I am sure it is communicating to those who “speak” the language.

haiku (8/24/21)

5-7-5 version

under the oak tree
I become the intruder…
ten ants scurry home

9 to 14 brief version

under the oak
I’m the intruder…
ten ants scurry home

Wail (Tribute to Allen Ginsberg)


Being a haiku poet and highly interested in all things haiku, I did some research on the Beat Poets and Beat Writers of the 1950s and 1960s (also called the Beat Generation) who popularized haiku in America. Jack Kerouac’s novel, The Dharma Bums, featured a main character who wrote haiku and this influenced a whole generation of Americans and spawned a sub-cultural movement. One of the other pillars of the Beat movement was Allen Ginsberg.

Ginsberg’s poem, Howl, was influential in breaking down barriers in poetic expression. The publisher of Howl was arrested and brought to court for having published “obscenities”. The verdict was a landmark decision for artistic expression everywhere. The judge ruled that Ginsberg’s work was not obscene but a satirical artistic expression in the language of the street and therefore of merit.

Recently (couple months ago) I became more interested in Ginsberg and wanted to read some of his works, so I purchased the book Howl and Other Poems. Then, just last week, I had an opportunity to enter a poem into a contest which called for a poem in the style of Allen Ginsberg. Having been immersed in his work recently, I felt like I was ready to do this justice, to channel his voice and style, and to utilize his works as inspiration in a tribute poem to Allen Ginsberg.

Well, here it is. I trust you will enjoy this. To fully appreciate it, I recommend you read Ginsberg’s Howl Part I, which you can find HERE.


I have seen the tortured minds of my generation rise out of the ashes of insanity naked in new birth
born of one-night stands to fathers angry at street-level poverty looking for another damned fix
segregated from their heavenly connections by pulpit charlatans who mock Jesus with their lies
and foisted into a society rife with the embryonic anticipation of a litter of wide-eyed howling wolves–
they howl, wail in the pain of a toe-stubbed mind numb with the violent anguish of reverse Kaddish
corrupted thoughts that go down to dark black hell inside the earth’s churning stomach grueling
through another day of grinding fingers to stubs in stealthy hot steel mills of melting coke slag dross
or the tragic lost-in-limbo, non-racist clans that emerge from dust-filled caverns wearing black-face daily
rewarded for years of long lust labor with death by black lung just for trying to feed a frightened family:
unconscionable insanities pregnant with silent rage birthed a booming generation of undying phoenix
to sort out the mess of the death of a blitzkrieg of rotating swastikas grinding over the im-Maginot line
and the octopus strike of a rising sun’s rays dropping torpedoes out of the sky all over a pacifist ocean
anything but, revolving around one tiny island midway in the salty sea, a turning point of carrier death
delivering a scarred, walled, divided, dark cold war world (in a race against time) into our riled hands:
these are the fathers that beat the living shit out of us so that we would make something of ourselves
their thick black leather belts swishing through thin air to connect with naked ass anxiety that wailed
as mothers cowered in corners in this machismo pig-dominated world of sixties flower-child retribution  
yes, wailed for an opportunity to prove that their empty mirror looks were not just reality sandwiches
to be left at the gates of wrath over the death and fame of the unborn, but these best minds would rise,
rise from sad dust glories into bold new consciousness aware of the fall of America to entitled bastards
leaving seventies hallucinogenic mind breaths of yage letters and peyote epistles deep in Indian journals
for an eighties explosion of technology sending out a web of cosmopolitan greetings–a plutonian ode
in deliberate prose detailing the new nineties code–a cyber matrix of electronic virtual opportunity 
beyond the Y2K wherewithal of wonder-gurus poised to exploit the capital gain of worldwide attribution   
delivered by indies in iron horses to the doorsteps of the consummated–prime Amazon jungle packages,
all psychedelics notwithstanding this onslaught of otherworldly “a to z” distribution of new globalism
printed in a bound book of martyrdom and artifice pursued by terrorific faithful forgers of explosions,
nine-eleven sensibilities notwithstanding: in the twenty-tens first blues then reds separated purples
reaching beyond yellow viruses soaked in white lies with their twenty-twenty smiles hidden from view 
behind false-face shields of safety and protection for the sake of mass control litigation mitigating
the best minds silenced by the verbatim lectures and pinocchio talking points of the illuminated ones
who all know what’s best for planet earth, just read the planet news and don’t ask questions because 
politicians are the most forthright and honest people alive and would never steer us wrong, right, yeah
and here’s some land on the moon you can develop when you take your Musk journey into space to rise–
rise from the ashes of insanity naked in new birth, put on a white shroud, escape the doom of this world
to a new cosmic citizenship far away and beyond this reality into a place called eternity where lies die,
death dies, hate dies, and “evil” is reversed so we can “live” free and not die a sliced snake’s fiery death–
do you believe it–the best minds gathered to think, to reminisce, to tell tall tales of the former ways 
and days of insanity, laughing unrelentingly over some heavenly cognac to relax at the end of woes.


This poem is inspired by and is a tribute to Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg’s style in Howl includes very long lines that wrapped around to the next line. The hanging indents indicate continuation of the line above. Same with my poem, however, I was unable to add the hanging indents because it totally messed up the WordPress formatting all to hell.

So, the second shorter line in my poem is the continuation of the first longer line for each line. These shorter lines are really a continuation of the line above so that the poem is technically only 39 lines. I wish there was a better way to do it, but I think you can figure it out.

In tribute to Allen’s life and work, this poem also utilizes key words and phrases from all his book titles as a way to honor him and integrate his life’s works into the poem.

Here are the key words and phrases from the titles of his books, see if you can find them in my poem:

Empty Mirror
Reality Sandwiches
The Yage Letters
Planet News
Indian Journals
The Gates of Wrath
Iron Horse
The Fall of America
Verbatim Lectures
First Blues
Sad Dust Glories
Mind Breaths
Plutonian Ode
White Shroud
Cosmopolitan Greetings
Death and Fame
Deliberate Prose
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice
The Best Minds

The Poet-Philosopher’s Passion

One aspect of an authentic poet-philosopher’s passion is to help take on the world’s problems by getting to the heart of the matters and conveying that to others.

The poet-philosopher is a visionary who takes on the challenges of the world’s problems by diving into the depth of the matters at hand, seeking the most comprehensive and exhaustive understanding of these matters and issues in all realms of thought—science, philosophy, religion, art, and spirituality—and putting themselves into the shoes of everyone on all sides.

They investigate all facets, all dimensions, all ideologies so that they are the most empathetically empowered to then comprehend and convey the heart of the maters to the world, opening the door for an honest handling of the issues that will hint at, and lead to, inspiring solutions for all creation, all things living, and for all humankind.

The poet-philosopher is also sometimes prophetic in unveiling the potential ills or harms that may befall us if the problems at hand are not addressed and the course of society is not changed—and visionary in pointing to better ways and a better future.

Poetry has been called the highest form of communication in language, and it is, but it goes beyond that as well. Poetry not only communicates, it conveys. A powerful, thought-provoking poem is more than the sum of the words present. It is an organic entity to be experienced by the reader. It communicates on other than conscious levels and impresses itself on the mind and heart of the reader through these channels. In this way it conveys more than it says.

A poem doesn’t always do this by being heady, or abstract, or dealing in philosophical concepts.

A poem is a slice of life.

It is often a small scene or event presented and explored and conveyed in poetic language that says more than the words present. Philosophic thoughts of life may be the farthest thing from the reader’s conscious mind when reading a poem, but the way the poem conveys that slice of life is what impresses its philosophic thoughts of life on the mind and heart of the reader through these other than conscious channels.

A good reader of poetry will read a poem over and over to absorb its essence and to allow the organic power of the poetry to work behind the scenes to increase their empathetic understanding and to allow it to give serendipitous moments of understanding, noticing, awareness, enlightenment, and broader comprehension to the conscious mind.

This is the long legacy of poetry in our world. And it is a sad state of affairs when many in a society do not appreciate the power of their poets and the poetry of their generation—when they view it in disdain and regard poets as strange people who need to get a life.

What an error and fallacy of an unenlightened generation.

Nevertheless, the poet-philosopher’s passion is to bear with it and continue to dive into the challenges of the world’s problems and to continue to explore at depth and then craft their work to convey the true and genuine heart and state of affairs through these slices of life called poems.

Because the poet-philosopher is a visionary who refuses to live in the systemically erected box of society as programmed through the world’s media, they are often way out of place in their society and generation. And that is why, so often, a poet is not famous or recognized until after his or her death, in retrospect, after the rest of society catches up.

Allocating Life Energy

Each day we have so many things before us that we need to do, from supplying food to our bodies to make energy, getting rest we need, doing work, healing up when sick, engaging in new adventures, whatever it is the day brings, our bodies have a limited amount of energy that needs to be properly allocated between physical survival needs, life engagement, working to supply resources and materials for our needs, and all our other activities lest we exhaust ourselves and find ourselves incapable of doing much or even worse, dying prematurely.

Years ago in the early 1970s, at the dawn of the personal computer age (the government had been using them for years and some exclusive giant corporations) I was introduced to the first PCs with black screens and green “dashed” lettering. With great excitement I played my first fantasy role playing games on computer, they were “text” or “narrative” games where you had to type in your actions, like “Go west” and “Pick up key” and then you’d find out the results of your actions. Soon, computers evolved to the whitish blue “dashed” lettering and the Apple II came out and life took off from there.

Being a teen, I could not afford my own computer, but a local businessman opened a shop full of Apple II computers and sold “rental time” on each computer to users. I’d go in, sign up, and then get on a computer for $5 an hour (not a bad deal). His shop was always full, and he had 16 computers running, so he made $800 to $1000 a day. I spent hours there playing a star fleet battles game where you could fight using ships from all the popular space war movies and shows. You could take Star Trek ships against Star Wars ships or even Battlestar Galactica ships. It was an incredible concept.

Each turn you gave commands to your ships, navigation commands, life support, shield energy, firing weapons, repairs, and more; BUT the caveat was that each ship had a limited amount of generated energy it could use each turn based on its energy generation the turn before and damage from battle. So you had to really prioritize your needs and stick to essentials and balance it all out if you wanted to win. Did you need repairs to bring ship’s engines or defenses or offenses back up to par so you could use them? Did you need to boost life support, or allocate energy to shields to withstand an attack? Did you need to allocate energy to weapons so you could fight off your foe, or energy to bank your ship in a new direction or increase speed?


Even at full capacity there was a harmonic balance of energy allocation that was maintained and adding extra energy to any task took it away from another. And there were ship accidents, crew situations and sicknesses, things to deal with that required energy. What an amazing lesson for life.

When I was young my energy capacity was very much higher, I hardly even thought about what I could and couldn’t do in a day, I just charged into the day and did it all, whatever I could do, and anything left undone was simply finished the next day. My body was more resilient, so I could starve for two days and not even care, and when I finally ate some food, I could eat a horse, as they say.

But as we age, our bodies begin to allocate more energy to simple maintenance, digestion, immunity, core temperature, and we find we can’t physically do as much as we used to before tiring out. That’s because our “engine capacity” is diminished by wear and tear and age, sometimes by injury or sickness or maladies. And this robs energy from our brains, our higher thinking, and limits the physical work we can do in a day. Suddenly we find that our energy allocation needs to be adjusted. Whereas we used to have 50 points to allocate to our daily bodily needs and our other life-engagement activities, we now have 35. We have to decide to do less.

In the star fleet computer game it was impossible for me to allocate more energy than I had. In other words, I couldn’t “command” or “plan” to do more activities than the energy I had to support them. But in life, we can certainly command or plan to do more than we can handle and then we run out of the energy to support all the things we need or want to do and we shut down in some way, either we become so fatigued we can’t keep working, or we get sick and have to take actions to get well, or we lose some of our mental acumen and get dull, bleary-eyed, disoriented.

Sometimes I tell my wife, “Honey, I can’t think anymore. I need to take a nap so I can think again.” That’s one of the side effects that hits me when I try to do too much and over-allocate energy I don’t have. So a great key in staying productive and energized to do all the things that we want to do in life, no matter the stage or season of life, is to be attuned to how much life energy we have to allocate to all our activities. If we burn ourselves out we will not be fulfilled and will even get ill or fatigued.

All you young folks have a lot of energy to allocate, so don’t waste it on too many leisure activities, or on idleness which can eat up energy too. And by God, don’t waste it on TV and endless hours on the constant cyber-space mind-feed. Take control of your life and wisely allocate your energy to accomplish all the things you want to accomplish in life with proper time to rest, regenerate, enjoy entertaining or amusing activities, and eat. Keep the important things important, like your marriage, your family, your job. If you allocate energy to other things you won’t have the energy or time to properly nourish your marital and family relationships, you’ll get caught up in the rush of success in the world and forget to take time for yourself, time to enjoy nature and this amazing natural world around us.

The advantage we all have as we get older is that we become seasoned, experienced, wiser, we can utilize time more efficiently, we get better at strategizing our time and delegating to others. We let people do things instead of trying to do it all ourselves. But let’s be real, we also lose a lot of our life energy capacity. So we need to adjust. If we keep going like we think we have all the energy in the world to do everything, we will ultimately hurt ourselves, get sick, miss out on important things, and get too damned tired to carry on.

I remind myself of the Vince Lombardi quote: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” He didn’t say that in the context of that we should NEVER be tired. He made that statement in the context of self-control and self-mastery, that we allocate the life energy we have to take time to condition ourselves, to train ourselves to perform, to build a capacity to dig deeper and rise to the occasion when needed, to keep the important things important so we are ready to handle life successfully, and this included taking the proper time to rest and regenerate when we need to.

So take the time to think about your allocation of your life energy. Do you use it wisely? Are you allocating to the important things and letting the unimportant things go? Are you staying focused on meeting needs rather than letting wants, and fun, and leisure steal more time than is healthy or productive? Are you keeping your body healthy and nourished properly or assaulting it with too much food (overeating) or with bad foods? None of us will ever get away with cheating on the life energy capacity that we have to allocate. Eventually our bodies, minds, or lives will suffer in some way to make up the difference.

You and I have the power to be disciplined and in control of ourselves so that we allocate the life energy we have wisely and continue to live successfully, productively, happily, and efficiently—fulfilled in all we do. So think it through and do it right. You know what to do. So just do it. Remember, life is good, let’s keep it that way.

Getting On Top of Things

It’s amazing how life can sneak up on us and we get so overcommitted with so many things that we end up missing out on the things we love because we have so many obligations to fulfill. That’s what life has been for me these past 8 months.

So now I am working hard to get on top of things. It takes incredible resolve to simplify and keep moving forward rather to than throw up my hands in disgust and quit. I’ve been quitting too much these past number of months preferring to play games and mess around to “escape” from the obligations.

Oh, I’ve done a good job of getting by with the minimal amount of work so that red flags don’t go up. But it’s been such a burden and I know how it works because I have been supremely efficient in the past. I wouldn’t be enjoying the incredible success that I have if I was never efficient.

So what happened?


That’s right. It’s not a complaint, I’m not whining about it, I’m just facing the reality that I can’t spin as many plates as I advance in age and my capacities seem to have diminished. So it’s just time to adjust to the season of life, adapt, and keep moving forward accomplishing as much as I can.

I’ve always been a “driven” individual with a strong inner compulsion to be productive, proactive, to succeed, and to be fulfilled. I love doing good stuff for people, serving and helping others. But I let myself get buried in overcommitments.

Run from overcommitments. I’ve always been good at saying NO when I need to, when I can’t handle adding more plates to spin. That’s not the problem. My problem is that I still think and act like I can do all the stuff I did 10 years ago and I can’t. So I have to face reality and accept the fact that my capacities have diminished, but my skills have not. So, I need to reassess what I really can handle and then say NO more often.

I still do more than most people, including young people. But whereas I used to run circles around others when it came to productivity, I now only walk around them. So I accept that and hopefully the lessons I learned in these past 8 months will help me to only take on the number of plates I can keep spinning.

Life is good. Keep it that way.

Poetic Tidbit #1 – Personas

Today, for our first tidbit, I am going to talk about “personas” in poetry.

It is not a good practice for a reader of poetry to assume or think that the ” I ” or “me” in a poem is actually the poet.

Poets are artists who assume personas at times to hold human idiosyncrasies and habits to the light and examine and expose societal or human behaviors, sometimes negative, to shed light on them and offer them for evaluative thinking.

Unfortunately, so many poets do actually write from a real first person perspective as if all their work is a poetic memoir, diary or journal of their own lives and thoughts from their personal perspective that the fact and reality of “personas” often gets obfuscated.

Notice that when you read a good textual commentary on poetry, the commentator often refers to the individual speaking in the poem as “the speaker.” They do not ever attribute it to being the poet themselves lest they make a false assumption and blur the lines of these personas. If the speaker is the poet, that may become clear, but this way the commentator avoids mischaracterizing the poem.

A “persona” may be gender specific, an historic character, an inanimate object, an animal, whatever perspective the poet wishes to assume. Poets are innovative artists and many have within their skill-set the ability to assume a persona and change poetic voice accordingly.

Poets and writers can manipulate voice in their writing for a specific purpose and so may invent a persona. If, as a poet, I assume the character of a soldier in the American Revolution and write a poem from that perspective, the key to making it work is to have the voice come across as natural and credible.

When assuming a persona, a poet will depart from their natural personal poetic voice to write a poem “in character” and from the “character’s perspective” to handle poetic truths of life and society in a unique and powerful way. The character may be fictional, but the truths and observations are real.


Still, I Go

The island of love’s tree
awaits the hour of alcohol
earth and moon aside
by the pillar of sanity’s bride
see them reach for my heart
you know I’ll go.

In the poem above I, DE Navarro, am NOT the speaker. The speaker is a fictitious character, a human being in this situation, revealing how they think, their attitude, and what drives them to this decision.

It is offered as a “slice” of life and society so the reader may view it in a personal perspective and way unlike they may have done so before. It humanizes the situation a bit more, and puts it on a “slide” to be viewed through a projector or scope or held up to the sun.

This series was started 10 months ago in my We Write Poetry™ Wordshop™ Group forum on LinkedIn. I am going to post it and archive it here. This is the first one. Many more will follow.

Please enjoy and discuss and add your thoughts and some poems of your own in the comments below.

Fairy Glen Conwy River Gorge, North Wales, UK
Fairy Glen Conwy River Gorge North Wales

Exposé at the Cliché Café

Hello folks. This is a reprint of an article I wrote in 2009. This topic recently came up in the We Write Poetry™ Forum that I manage and moderate on LinkedIn. So I thought, why not, I might as well post it. Obviously being 8 years old, I have grown and learned and changed, so not every iota of this article is exactly the perfect representation of the view I hold today, but it is close enough as to almost be indiscernible. Besides, today, if I rewrote it, I would just add more to it and make it even stronger. Enjoy!

Exposé at the Cliché Café

Let us open that can of worms called cliché.

Can of worms?” Hey—that IS a cliché.

Oh, the experts all say (all the ones I know) “Never use cliché.”


What if the cliché embraces the exact allusive image or concept I am after?

What if the point of my poem involves playing with cliché?

Who made cliché taboo and what authority did they have to do it?

Here’s the real problem (and it is the same problem with those that whine about rhyming too)—they see a few poor attempts at using cliché or rhyming—many young or new poets are not skilled enough to use them forcefully or powerfully, and so they make a BLANKET rule—avoid cliché or avoid rhyming “because they are traditional, not fresh, unoriginal, and amateurish.”

Oh, I know, the definition of the word itself means a trite, stereotyped expression that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse. But what some call cliché, others call wise sayings, quips, proverbs, and mores. They have become a permanent part of a living language.

What they should say is avoid the “amateurish use of cliché and rhyming.” In other words, just get good at it—and to get good at it means you have to use it and lay those wonderful eggs before people—learn—and move on.

I absolutely LOVE the effective use of both cliché and rhyming.  When done masterfully or effectively they both can add power to poetry.

If I come across a cliché that DETRACTS from a poem, then I may note that to the author—but I often stop to evaluate WHY the cliché was used—and does it have a purpose or effect.

To me a cliché is really just another word in our language. Just like an individual word it has a universally accepted meaning, but instead it is a phrase with a universally accepted meaning.

I am not afraid to use the word jungle just because it has been used so often before, or divine.

Oh, don’t use the word divine in your poem—it is overused and will make you an instant amateur.  See—isn’t that ridiculous to think that we would avoid certain words because they are too popular or too familiar?

So what about cliché then? It carries universally accepted meaning that maybe I want to conjure, allude to, and add to the stream of thought in my poem.

If I want to use it I WILL.  I just better do a damn good job of it.

Here’s an example where I monopolize on a cliché for a poem:


He saw the clouds
and took his umbrella
on his sleepy carousel life
round and round
up and down
eighty floors high
to eradicate his stack of papers
before his noon expedition
to the seething jungle below.

©2007-2009 NavWorks Press and DE Navarro. All rights reserved.

We have heard the cliché where corporate life is compared to a jungle—or the hustle and bustle of city life in all its elements is compared to a jungle.

By simply referring to the city below as the “seething jungle below”, my allusion captures all that the cliché embodies and is already familiar in the minds of my readers so I do not have to add any further words to say what I want to say.

Think about it, I don’t have to talk about all the wheeling and dealing, the gangs and drug lords, the business moguls and corporate lords, the hustle and bustle of cars, trains, trucks, planes, and every other moving object on wheels, the masses of people pouring across every street, the noises of brakes squealing, horns blowing, sirens wailing, jets swooshing, and on and on, that make up the “jungle” of the city.

Since the cliché is universally accepted, it seamlessly added all this additional meaning and contributed to the poem while preserving an incredible economy of words because I did not have to invent some other comparison here to bring all that to bear.  In this case, it is slipped into the poem in a very smooth manner that is really hardly noticeable—it fit seamlessly.

However, if I stated somewhere in the poem that the “city is like a concrete jungle,” can you see how much weaker that would be, over worn, unoriginal, and yet I’d be presenting it like it was some new revelation—now that’s amateurish.

See the difference.  My poem above made it a foregone conclusion that the reader is already familiar with this metaphor, and in a passing way made allusion to it and thus it carried freshness and power in it.  It compacted language and added to the poem.

So don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

A cliché in time may save nine lines of rhyme (or something like that).

I’ll get off my sudsy oratorical platform now. Hey wasn’t that fresh and new and clean—I didn’t say “soapbox.”  Hmmm.  Not really. Avoiding cliché may lead to some egg being laid like a “sudsy oratorical platform” instead of a “soapbox.” Okay, that was a stretch, I know rephrasing a cliché in an alternate way is NOT what they mean by fresh and new, but it was fun anyway.

I’m always teaching balance. Bad cliché and bad rhyming are bad—so avoid them.

But there is such a thing as powerful cliché and powerful rhyming—and we’ll never get there if we think there is a rule that we can’t use cliché and rhyming because it is trite and traditional.

So fellow derelicts of poetic expression—give me your best cliché and show me how it can be done, how it can be integrated into a poem, how it can be a powerful allusion.


If you are interested in checking out my poetry, which has been well-spoken of and well reviewed by many, please visit the Curio. Why not give it a shot, it might surprise you how well I connect with my readers and the enjoyment they get out of my work.

P.S. I do not use a whole hell of a lot of cliché in my work, by the way, just certain few poems in which the purpose is well thought through and chosen by deliberation. Thanks.

The Facilitated Publishing Model

NWP Poetry Pub Packages Banner

Poetry Publication

A publishing model designed by a poet for poets.

At NavWorks Press, we take our press imprint and reputation seriously, so we will not publish substandard work. We will, however, go to great lengths to collaborate with poets to prepare their work to be publication ready. If we do accept your work, we offer you publication under a facilitated publishing model where you choose a specific package and thereby become a partner in the publication of your work.

As a poet, I understand the poetry market and the difficulties that face many poets. I know that most of the self-publishing models are not cost-effective for poets and that many of the self-publishers are not tailoring their packages to the needs of poets. So I have designed and implemented a new concept called the facilitated publishing model to help poets get their work into print at minimal costs to them, certainly far better than the self-publishing models you will find out there.

As the facilitating publisher, we are offering a unique partnership that is unlike self-publishers or full traditional publishers. First, unlike a self-publisher, we are not looking to make an upfront profit off you as a client in publishing your work and then making a hefty profit off of everything you buy. We are looking for worthy work by poets who want to participate in a publishing model that is good for you as a poet and us as the publisher.

Second, unlike a full traditional publisher, we are not willing to shoulder the burden and risk of the full costs of publishing poetry at our expense. I’ll be very honest with you here; very few publishers of poetry make any money on their actual book projects. The only reason they publish poetry, aside from promoting and supporting the art, is that they receive donations from fine arts patrons and donors for their work. So the publication of poetry is viewed as mostly a philan-thropic endeavor. We are looking for worthy work by poets who want to participate in a publishing model that is good for you as a poet and us as the publisher. We will facilitate getting your publishable work into print by supplying our expertise, our resources, and our professional services at near break-even rates.

The most notable benefit to you in this model is that it is not self-publishing for two main reasons. First, you will need to submit your work to NavWorks Press just as you would to any publisher and we need to accept your work. We will only publish that which we are willing to put our name and reputation behind. Second, if we accept your work, you will be published under an actual press imprint, NavWorks Press, where your work was accepted based on its merit and our willingness to publish it.

Another great benefit to you is that you will not be dealing with a layered corporation that does business according to top-down policies which emphasize the bottom line and often lead to inflexibility. You will be working with a real individual or individuals who have a passion for poetry and the writing arts and for helping good poets get published in today’s world. Most of the other publishers and self-publishing houses are top-down multi-layered organizations that are not concerned with the poet’s needs as an individual. You usually end up working with an individual that is a hired representative who has no authority to modify packages or services or consider your individual needs and desires.

Other benefits to you include that you will receive higher royalties for any books sold through us, and you will be able to order as many books as you like at any time at publisher’s wholesale price (typically $3.50 for 50 page soft-cover) to sell yourself for FULL royalties. So if you sell your book at $9.50 retail, you make $6 per book. Also, you will make all typical royalties from other sellers, which is usually minuscule and part of what led me on a quest to find a better publication model for poets. Under this model, you can sell books and I will sell books that will make you far greater royalties than you will find anywhere else, and yet your book will still be available to order at any bookstore worldwide.

Your time as a poet is here.

Contact DE Navarro, NavWorks Press, at for submission guidelines and more information on our publication packages.


Poetry Reading: Isadore Greely’s Place, by DE Navarro

Check it out, I think you will enjoy.

Source: Poetry Reading: Isadore Greely’s Place, by DE Navarro

“Intellectual Snobbery and the Poetry Police” by DENavarro

A timeless classic.  Please excuse the formatting issues. It is a WordPress “reblog” and apparently they have not worked out their internal glitches.

K Morris - Poet

Intellectual Snobbery and the Poetry Police by DENavarro

A while back, I had a run in with the Poetry Police. I got pulled over for excessive adjectives. The officer liked my poem but wrote me a ticket for too
many modifiers. He said it was necessary if I wanted to be a serious poet.

Bah! I had to laugh, which confirms that I am not a serious poet, but rather a seriously lighthearted one. In response to my poem, Symphonic Forest, the
gentleman wrote:

Essentially, I like this poem. However, it gets bogged down and diluted a bit with the use of too many adjectives. Wordiness might be forgiven, given the
nature of a symphonic score in terms of notes. But the thing about telling rather than showing is that it leaves very little space for the reader to expand
his/her participation in the art of reading poetry.

The comment…

View original post 1,177 more words

The Logical Poem-Story

Eons ago in a fathomless destitute crime-ridden inner city
far, far away-Chicago-we met in a vacant lot overgrown
with the most wretched of devil weeds-gnarled, tangled,
twisted stems like steel cables intertwined, seized ankles,
ripped shoes off mid-stride, threw children to the ground;

grasshoppers the size of finger-fat tootsie rolls hugged
tall stalks, shifted around away from intruders, jumped
blind in free flight withersoever they would go to smack
into whatever they hit and to cling with sticky barbed legs
wherever they landed, my nose and ears included.

We discussed the greater matters of life as most kids do,
like where you might come out if you dug a hole through
the earth-Paul said China, I shook my head no; Bob said
China, Christy said it, my brother said it, Cathy said it,
all said China-mad that I shook my head no. Ran home
whining-he won’t believe us-got the adults involved.

Mrs. Shuzack said it, my mom even dared to say it, and
there in the midst of the black cracked asphalt street,
John’s dad shook a rough knuckled finger in my face,
his sad eyes strained behind hedge row brows, and
declared boldly before all-they come out in China.

Then some school teachers strolling home agreed, like
buzzing bees together, that if we dug a hole through the
earth, we’d come out in China; a few park officials, sharp
and smart in their steam-starch-pressed green uniforms
bearing pointed polished badges, nodded to me to give it
up, as if that were the noble or honorable thing to do.

Someone finally asked me why I shook my head no, so
I smiled and said, “Don’t you know, if you dig a hole
through the earth, you come to the molten core and die.”

That was the end of that.

■ ~ ■ ~ ■

Published in Dropping Ants into Poems, NavWorks Press, 2017
Available worldwide and at reduced price at the Curio Bookstore
ISBN: 9781366548467

Recovered Account

I have finally just recovered this account. The old email was tied to an old site and it was a bear to re-establish one with the same name so that I could receive a reset email from this host.

I will be reformatting this blog and making it more active.

Thank you for your patience. A poem for you:

In Time

Now here within
nowhere without
all throughout outer
set pace for inner

in your face in this
passes now without a
what’s done we can’t

No sense to chase the chime
presence known in present time.

© 2017 DE Navarro

Word List Prompt Dare

Come on, I DARE YOU to take it on. 

Write me a poem, or two, or ten

using every word in the “word list”

below – use any tense or form of

the words you like.


If you need to look up any of the

wordsto refresh yourself on their

meanings, GO HERE.


Who’s got the gumption to meet this

challenge?  Let me see the poems.











Push yourself to come up with something totally unique and different from your normal style.


It will be interesting to see how varied the poems will be while using the same list.


Go all out – show us your verve and your nerve.


New challenge coming soon.

I Am A River: DE Navarro


That’s it.

One word.

How does it make you feel?

What are your thoughts about it?

What does it mean to you?

Now write a poem using the word resurgence in it.

CHALLENGE: Write and post poems that use the word resurgence in them — any style, any length, any way you want to get it out.

Post below.

View original post

Resurgence Poetry Challenge


That’s it.

One word.

How does it make you feel?

What are your thoughts about it?

What does it mean to you?

Now write a poem using the word resurgence in it.

CHALLENGE: Write and post poems that use the word resurgence in them — any style, any length, any way you want to get it out.

Post below.


This is the location for the We Write Poetry Interactive Forum.  Come here to read the poetic challenges, prompts, suggestions, and other fun stuff, and then post your comments and poetry for interaction in the community.  Get responses on your work and generously give responses to others.