Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Call For Shit Poetry

I’m looking for poems whose subject is shit, that deal directly with shit, or whose driving metaphor is shit or shitting. But I it has to be the whole poem—not just a mention of shit here or there or just using the word. The whole poem. Many famous poets have written shit poems, so don’t be ashamed if you too have mused upon the subject. The list I’ve assembled so far reads like this:

“Shit List” – A.R. Ammons
“The Snake” – Charles Bukowski
“Ode on the Commode” – Jack Butler
“Excrement” – Allen Ginsberg
“On the Rectum of Peacocks” – Gabriel Gudding
“Shit: An Essay on Rimbaud” – Thom Gunn
“The Soul of Spain with McAlmon and Bird the Publishers”
– Ernest Hemingway
“An Epiphany” – X.J. Kennedy
“Holy Shit” – Galway Kinnell
“The Excrement Poem” – Maxine Kumin
“Feces” – J.D. McClatchy
“Yam” – James Merrill
“I Get a Feeling” – Liam Rector
“The Dung Pile” – Peter Streckfus
“The Beautiful Bowel Movement” – John Updike

Ginsberg has quite a few poems about shit, but I’m trying to limit this unofficial “anthology” to one poem per poet. (Indeed, much like every other poem I wrote in high school included indigo, every other poem A.G. writes mentions his or someone else’s asshole.)

Gabe Gudding too has rhapsodized eloquently on butts and farts and so forth in his excellent A Defense of Poetry. That collection is another big influence not only in my own work but in this search for shit poetry.

I was going to add a caveat that I’m not looking for any literal toilet humor, but thought twice. Such verses are a big part of scatological literature and to exclude them would be careless. “Beans, Beans, the musical fruit” and “Here I sit broken-hearted” are some of the earliest poetic memories many of us have.

So if you know of more examples of famous poets’ forays into the subject, please send them along. Whether it be a whole poem or part, or even passages from critical works. John Berger has written on the subject and someplace far back I remember Eliot comparing the act of writing a poem to shitting.

Also send along original work. Depending on the response, I may or may not post the poems on this blog, if the poets consent.

This is mostly for my own amusement and education, and as a resource for others. I doubt any actual anthology will be published. What publishing house would want to back an anthology of shit poety? Though, you’ve got to admit, if you were browsing through the POETRY section and saw a book devoted entirely to poems about shit, you’d at least take it off the shelf and take a look.

1 comment:

gaby said...

I think it's a worthwhile thing you're doing.
Have always loved Updike's Beautiful Bowel Movement.
Thanks for reposting it here.

You seem to have a comment spam problem; I suggest checking out whether you can turn on comment notification or a blacklist of some sort to defend against spam.