Charles Bernstein


 

What Makes a Poem a Poem?


My lecture is called “What Makes a Poem a Poem?” I’m going to set my timer.

It’s not rhyming words at the end of a line. It’s not form. It’s not structure. It’s not loneliness. It’s not location. It’s not the sky. It’s not love. It’s not the color. It’s not the feeling. It’s not the meter. It’s not the place. It’s not the intention. It’s not the desire. It’s not the weather. It’s not the hope. It’s not the subject matter. It’s not the death. It’s not the birth. It’s not the trees. It’s not the words. It’s not the things between the words. It’s not the meter. It’s not the meter—…

[timer beeps]

It’s the timing.

_______
Transcript of  “What Makes a Poem a Poem” part of the University of Pennsylvania’s “60-second lecture” series. April 21, 2004. Video of performance here.




© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review