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John Green kicks off Ours Poetica by reading a poem about poems: Poetry by Marianne Moore.

Poem: Poetry (1921) by Marianne Moore

Brought to you by Complexly, The Poetry Foundation, and poet Paige Lewis. Learn more: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/

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Hi I'm John Green and I'm gonna be reading a poem about poems by Marianne Moore it's called poetry.

I read this poem for the first time in high school in fact i'm reading from my high school copy of The Norton Anthology of Poetry and it's had a huge impact on my life and the way i think about creative endeavors. There's a line in it about imaginary gardens with real toads in them and for me that's what fiction writing is.

Poetry.  

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.  
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine.  
Hands that can grasp, eyes 
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a 

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful.  When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible, 
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we 
do not admire what 
we cannot understand: the bat 
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels
a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician--
nor is it valid 
to discriminate against "business documents and 

school-books"; all these phenomena are important.  One must make a 
distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half, poets, the result is
not poetry,
not till the poets among us can be 
"literalists of
the imagination" --above
insolence and triviality and can present 

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them," shall we have
it.  In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,

the raw materials of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry.