I recently encountered a few poems about poems, in terms of both crafting and appreciating it. These are too delightful not to share (click through for the full versions):

  • Introduction to Poetry

    … all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it…

  • The Trouble with Poetry

    … the trouble with poetry is
    that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
    more guppies crowding the fish tank, …

  • Sonnet

    All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
    and after this one just a dozen…

All three poems are by the talented Billy Collins, who was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001–2003. He is also the man behind Poetry 180, which aims to give high school students a taste of poetry every day of the school year. I admire his dedication to his work as well as his ability to step back and poke fun at it, in a clearly affectionate way.

His meta-poetry is an inspirational reminder of the fun and the value of reflecting on one’s own work, perhaps in the form of the work itself. Maybe I could write a program about programming, or a grant proposal to support work that aims to propose (there already exist slides about how [not to] create PowerPoint slides). Surveying one’s work from a high vantage point can lead to new insights about how to improve efficiency or satisfaction–or even just how to explain what it is and why it matters to a friend or family member.