21 Poems for the 21st Century - Volume 1

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From the Author
I chose this title in lieu of the upcoming Millennium and because I think it contains a very real truth about the nature of poetry itself. Although I very energetically read, write and recite poetry and can talk about it for hours, my experience has been that most people do not share my enthusiasm. This can be best illustrated by an anecdote in my life which, more than any other experience, firmly documents my spiritual leaning and at the same time charts the path from which I have seldom strayed.

"In my younger and more vulnerable days" to quote the first line from THE GREAT GATSBY, I was sitting alone in a bar in my college town of Kent, Ohio, when a young lady approached me and asked if she could sit down. I consented and was then asked if I should like to take a walk with her. Being the gentlemen I am, I again consented (it was 10 PM on a June night) and our footsteps lead us to a grassy meadow in the middle of a wood. She didn't resist the explorative expeditions of my hands as I touched her clothes, in fact she seemed to enjoy herself. I felt she wanted me to go further, so I asked her if she would like to hear a poem. I recited to her the full five minute version of THE HIGHWAYMAN with all the energy I could muster. Instead of thanking me she got up and left and I never saw her again.

The professional poet does not exist, unless one includes the profession of writing texts for songs, and thus the art of poetry writing remains a hobby for those who pursue it. That is not to say that most people are not interested at all in poetry, but most books on poetry are placed on shelves and remain seldom read. So, I thought that I would simply offer my potential audience 21 of my creations in the hope that I could somehow seduce them into reading them in one sitting. Most people will hopefully accept this reasoning at face value. But there will be the sticklers who indeed will count the number of poems in the manuscript, and discover to their horror and delight that I have committed one of the cardinal sins of poetry (which seeks to portray the truth); I have lied. There are not twenty-one poems in this booklet, but TWENTY-FIVE. Given that most persons are structuralists and very committed to numbers, they will realize that I have deceived them on this point. They will then conclude that my poetry can't be of any quality. I can only ask these persons to take a second look. There are twenty-one of my poems in the major collection, plus zwei Gedichte (the German word for poem), a poem written by my mother (the spirit behind all of my poetry) and an encore in the form of an eulogy to my favorite dog who died during the conception of this book. So by applying poetic license and linguistic differences to the numerical system, I have hopefully given everyone more than their money's worth.

Grantly Marshall
Munich, December 1999