Terry McCarty?s Use Your Delusion-Adventures in Poetry World
The everyday poet does not consider poetry to be a job, mainly because he receives no weekly paycheck for the effort he puts into the craft. Terry McCarty’s Use Your Delusion-Adventures in Poetry World, however, supposes, with tongue firmly in cheek, poetry is in fact a job. With this collection, McCarty has written poetry that reads like a diary of the poet at his “desk job.” It is for this reason that Use Your Delusion becomes an intriguing read.
Much of the collection draws from McCarty’s participation in the poetry community. He uses what bitterness he’s retained from his bad experiences and replaces it with satirical observations about his “poetry job.” The sense of isolation someone feels from working in a big corporation is juxtaposed with the sense of isolation poets feel within the often fractured poetry community. The same sentiment is shared between frustration from coworkers and poet colleagues.
The line between job and poetry is blurred so effectively in this collection that McCarty manages to create a believable analogy. The best example of this is “Poetry Inc.” (p.16):
“I inhabit a cubicle on the 33rd floor
of the giant literary conglomerate
known as Poetry Inc.
Each day I consult the corporate
handbook and churn out
and purposely inaccessible poems
loved by an Important few.
Lunch times are spent with colleagues
denouncing “journal-entry” poetry
and hailing rhyme-and-meter
In the break room, we are treated to
tape loops of Robert Frost intoning
“free verse is like playing tennis
without a net” hundreds of times.
Occasionally, we meet in the auditorium
for lectures and Q and A sessions
with the movers and shakers
of Poetry Inc.
Robert Pinsky shook my hand
and called me a “mainstay.”
Billy Collins said I should write a poem
for the next company picnic.
These accolades mean a lot to me.
It’s not time for me to get back to work.
Our new supervisor is NEW head
If we’re caught doing nothing,
he’ll transfer us to Los Angeles.
If that happens,
You’ll never hear from me again.
There are times when the satire employed in Use Your Delusion backfires and the author’s vitriol is ill spent as in “Gossip” (p.39). Such shortcomings are minor, however, when one reflects on the author’s attempt to actually produce something genuinely dynamic out of isolation and frustration, and not just create abstract exercises in wallow.
(Use Your Delusion-Adventures in Poetry World, 2004 Terry McCarty, 54 pages.)