Is it Crucial Rooster time already? Wow, time flies when you're on deadline. While our pal Reb is off wrestling one-arm bandits in Tahoe, she leaves behind some practical advice for those seeking a little inspiration and guidance in writing couplets for coupling. Editor, poet, and now seduction expert for the literary lovelorn, our Reb can do it all.
Crucial Rooster: Poetry Column by Reb Livingston
As the lovely Happy Booker mentioned here before, I recently co-edited (with Molly Arden) an anthology of seductive poems, called The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel. In the poetry world, where practically nobody has an agent or PR person, I have to take on those roles as well if I want sales outside of family and friends. This is not by choice, mind you, it’s just those agents and PR folks tend to want payment in something other than contributor copies — and contributor copies is all we usually have to offer.
In my quest for three digit sales, I’ve tried to break into non-poetry spheres, places that don’t have a focus on poetry, in hopes to reach new potential readers. Earlier this week an interview with a newswire reporter was a wake-up call to how truly unprepared I was for this endeavor. Silly and naïve me assumed the interview was going to be about the book or perhaps how I went about publishing it.
Well, I was one letter off. The way it really works is the reporter mentions the book in passing and then we get down to the nitty gritty and talk about the hook. Thank God this reporter already decided my hook for me – and I’m damn appreciative for this favor. You see, I’m not a poet or a poetry editor or beginner indie publisher – well, I am and sure, some of that was mentioned, but what normal person is going to want to listen to me yammer on about that? When one lacks celebrity status, she can make up for it with expert status.
I’m expert in the art of seductive poetry. Or at least that’s how I’m pimping myself for the opportunity to pimp the book.
It beats being called a porn peddler.
Tomorrow my media blitz continues during a telephone interview on an Irish radio station where I’ll be offering my tips how to write a poem powerful enough to distract one’s intended from his true jackass qualities long enough to secure an evening of hot Valentine loving.
Perhaps Happy Booker readers would be interested in my secret poem techniques as well? Oh good, I need to practice being an expert.
The Crucial Rooster’s Expert Seductive Poem Techniques
- Use contemporary language. It doesn’t matter if the one love poem you can think of goes “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” While that may be a great poem, it was written by Shakespeare who was born in the 16th century. You were not born in the 16th century. Being in love does not jettison you or your intended into the 16th century. Keep the language real.
- Mushiness is not a requisite of love poetry. If you don’t normally use “flowery” language, why put it in a poem?
- Avoid generalizations. Be specific. Unless your goal is to have an “in a pinch” poem tucked away in your wallet next to the emergency condom, make the poem personal to the relationship. It’ll mean more.
- If you must compare, avoid the clichés and the common. As you read above, “summer’s day” is out. As is comparing eyes to stars, lips to rubies, cheeks to apples, breasts to mounds, cocks to rocks. In the Bedside Guide poet Ravi Shankar ends his poem “Simpatico” with “Personally, I’d trade my kingdom for your clavicle, / the chance to draw a bow across the viola of your hips.”
Notice how the speaker uses comparison without explicitly announcing it. By comparing her hips to a viola, he’s saying they’re beautiful without explicitly saying “beautiful.” This is effective and direct and most importantly, painless. Your goal is not to induce cringing.
- Consider using a range of emotions. Sometimes love is disappointing and sad. Sometimes love makes one vulnerable. Authenticity and sincerity rule when it comes to love poem writing, but . . .
- Avoid the obsessive and pathetic. Namely things like, “If I can’t have you, nobody can” or “I’d die without your touch.” If those are your true feelings, bury them very very deeply and seek professional help. You want to refrain from sharing anything that might “freak out" your intended.
- Don’t be crass. We all love the “Man from Nantucket” – but that ain’t gonna get you some.
I hope those suggestions are helpful and remember, if you do plan on writing one for Valentine’s Day, you still want to get that bouquet of flowers. Nothing will harsh your seductive buzz faster than looking like a cheapskate.