Emily Post-Avant: Letters to Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, by Poets Seeking Help, Always Diligently Answered by Our Exclusive Columnist of Poetry Advice.

Dear Emily Post-Avant,

I am a fan of the awesome poet Anthony Madrid. Probably he’s my fav poet. He’s a columnist at the Paris Review. My old boyfriend I just broke up with thinks he’s the greatest poet of America since Walt Whitman. I thought I would send you this poem which I wrote in my high school Creative Writing Honors class last week. But my teacher said it’s “not really poetry.” He won’t even publish it in our school poetry magazine. And I’m the Assistant Student Editor!! I was in my room crying for like four days considering extreme things and stuff. My mom is really upset and she contacted the principal which made me pretty embarrassed because now the word is all over town. Now she and my dad are having a humongous fight about it. OMG and WTF? I have been following Dispatches from the Poetry Wars ever since my old boyfriend told me about your letters column. He’s a poet too though as I said I recently broke up with him after finding out he was smoking Meth big time. Not that you would care all that much about 16-year-old poets in Cozad Nebraska (the town of the painter Robert Henri btw). Though really it’s not that bad for a tiny homophobic town. So this poem I think is pretty OK because it has some sass so to speak. It talks back and it rhymes AABB etc. and it’s more or less in real meter starting out with tight tetrameters progressing to pentameters though in sexting style in a few verse cases then progressing as you can see by the scaled slope of it to hexameters and heptameters or even more (do nine-feet lines exist?) with these also in some cases loosey-goosey with anacrusis at the start or hypercatalectic at the end. Both of which by the way for me always bring up the crazy undecidable problem of whether the line in question is actually iambic or trochaic and this is something I have always wondered about you know: how you can determine if a line is iambic or trochaic when it has an initial syllabic elision or concluding syllabic add on. Do you know what I mean? I myself am getting confused though since I am only a junior in high school. Maybe that is not such a bad thing. Also do you have Anthony Madrid’s current email? I wrote him five freaking times specifying I was a high school student who loved his stuff but still he won’t write back to me. Why wouldn’t a real poet in Victoria Brooklyn want to write back to a 16- year old fan all the way out in Nebraska? Is he stuck up or something? Maybe he doesn’t like gay-boy teens? Anyway for what it’s worth and I could say more and possibly I will here is my poem. Why is the poetry field more corrupt and stacked and uptight than even politics is it seems? Thank you for kindly reading my letter and poem which my older sister has helped me with punctuation on. As you can tell from this letter punctuation is not my strong point:

Anthony Madrid

I’ve read his books and they are sad. 

Though not that by that they are bad!

One time at King’s, I groomed Madrid,

High up a tree. We talked of Byron fervid-

Ly. And flicked with glee lice from the tree,

At profs and kids from Trinity.1 Then Tony

Spoke, “Yo, is that not Prynne and What’s His Name?!”

The latter came all decked in cowpoke duds: insane-

Ly giant buckle belt, a vest, a veiling hat, with tint of cherry…

But by the chuckle, we could tell: Why, it was Monsieur Ashbery!

“Let me tell you something ‘bout so-called poetry, Prynne,”

He drawled, then spat. “A steak and drunk a day will make a slim

Boy nicely fat; but never have I ate a pathetic v=e=g=e=t=a=b=l=e

I’d thunk aesthetic.” Prynne coughed, then said, “Regrettable

It is, my line-dance chap, that you played so long at Uncle Warlock

Doing the moonwalk!” Ashbery now scratched his balls and cock,

In the gloom. It seemed the Cambridge Don had thrown him off

A smidge. But then he burped and said: “Son, I led the herd to trough,

That was all. Weren’t like I done dissimulated ‘bout a single thing.”

Then the bells of King’s, as in a Hitchcock film, began to ring and ring.

And that’s when Tony and me came down all ratty and happy from the tree.



  1. The idea of this line is to evoke a barely audible ticking sound, like snow falling



–Waiting to be Killed in the Next AR-15 School Shooting


Sweet boy, don’t you wish we could put the heads of the NRA on trial and send them to jail for a long time, along with Evil Clown Trump? Fuck them.

OK, punctuation aside, I am so impressed with your letter and your poem that I am only going to say this, my dear: For someone who is only 16, you are perfectly gifted, and I salute you. Keep going! Keep reading Dispatches from the Poetry Wars and Whitman and Madrid and all you can get your hands on. And don’t let anyone intimidate you, especially not your high school poetry teacher. And don’t worry about not hearing back from Mr. Madrid. Poets are the most unpredictable people-types of the planet. I love the image of you picking lice from his fur and the footnote related to throwing the little critters down at the academics. That shows some independent spunk, which the poetry world is in sore need of, these days. I greet you at the beginning of a magnificent career.


–Emily Post-Avant