Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AE Stalling's "Anti-Muses"

I was very sad indeed when this post disapeared from Harriet, but I found it again on Squandermania and decided to repost the whole thing here. Enjoy!
Like the Muses, they are attracted to talent and promising projects, and the presence of several at once probably means you are on to something big. Still, they can frustrate or even destroy the most inspired tender new poem, and send the poet into despair, alcoholism, or flash fiction. The more we know about them, the better.

Their mother is Amnesia, “Forgetfulness.”

They are goddesses, 13 in number:

She who holds the alphabet under her terrifying mis-spell.

The Anti-Muse of computer (typewriter, fountain pen, goose quill) malfunction

The Anti-Muse charged with the terrifying void of the blank page. As her symbol is Zero, she also governs poetry royalty checks.

The Anti-Muse of unsympathetic, snarky and condescending reviews. Yes, it is possible to dismiss an entire book of poetry on the grounds of capitalized lines.

“She of two left feet.” If your rhythms clunk, your lines lurch, your sonnet does not scan, this Anti-Muse may well be to blame. Mind you, if everything you write goes da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, you may be under the sway of her equally evil twin, the jackbooted Metronomē.

Not to be confused with her half-sister, Erato. She is the (Anti-) Muse of false revision. Also, she whispers the name “Cortez” when you should be writing “Balboa”.

She governs rejection slips and rigged book-publishing contests and all impediments, real and imagined, to publication. She also inspires poets to versify pointless incidents from their everyday lives.

Her name means “voice from afar,” thus “interruption”. Sometimes this Anti-Muse manifests herself as the shrill ringing of an annoying device. Sometimes it is a small child calling for a cookie from across the length of the house. Her seat of worship is Porlock.

She is the Anti-Muse of Prose disguised as Verse by Line-breaks.

Represented with the head of a warthog, the body of a Slinky, the wings of a bat, and the tail of a beaver, she holds sway over all mixed and misbegotten metaphors.

The Anti-Muse of verbiage, 1000 words that create no picture. She also governs graphomania in all its manifestations, and the related ekdotomania, the compulsion to publish a new book every year.

The goddess of blurbs.

A total lack of subject matter, thus a curse on confessional poets with nothing to confess. Suddenly the poet starts writing poems about sitting down at his desk with his leisurely morning coffee, looking out the window, and writing a poem ("Morning Coffee"). See also Anecdotē."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this!! Ahh I have a poem due tuesday and all of these seem to be attacking at once ;)