Over at the American Scholar, the "Next Line, Please" contest continues. This time readers are invited to write two-line poems.
When I edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry, I discovered a whole genre of two-line poems—poems that make their point quickly and efficiently, with maximum clarity and economy and usually more than a soupçon of wit.
Let’s write two-line poems for next week. The trick is, you need to write approximately 10 of them to get one or two that are really terrific. So I encourage everyone to submit as many as five, optimally one on each of five successive days.
The most famous anthology piece is doubtlessly Ezra Pound’s succinct plea for Imagism, “In a Station of the Metro”: “The apparition of these faces in a crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough.” Each word is essential. The title situates us in the specific place; the first line gives us a close-up; the second line accomplishes the metaphorical transformation. Note that for Pound the urban modernist, the value remains on nature.