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.


  1. jim said,

    July 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Completely off topic, when I was skimming blogs to read, I misread this as “Meat Poetry.” While there was no Ode to Bacon, I do appreciate the meta poems. Guppies crowding the fish tank.

  2. Tyestin said,

    July 31, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Limericks about limericks(I did not make these):

    Rob, an odd fellow, designs
    Poems of equal-length lines
    And he limericks with flair
    As his forethought and care
    Ensure a word count of 3 9s

    There was an old man
    From Peru, whose lim’ricks all
    Look’d like haiku. He

    Said with a laugh “I
    Cut them in half, the pay is
    Much better for two.”

    There are lots of creative(and often quite nerdy) ones at

  3. Malcolm Burnell said,

    December 16, 2014 at 6:24 am


    A figure beckons from above,
    High on the hill he stands.
    His body black against the sun,
    He gestures his demands.

    A silhouette against the sky,
    His arms and hands beseech me.
    He’s calling me to strive on up,
    And join the rhyme pot pourri.

    The Lord of rhymes is loose again,
    He’s asking for more verse.
    I search for my thesaurus,
    My dictionary and worse.

    I write about this man on high,
    With words to trade and meter.
    But will it satisfy my master,
    Lofty, and true lotus eater.

    Off I go, the work is done,
    The rising pathway followed.
    Scroll in hand, the ink is dry,
    My pride in it is swallowed.

    “Lord of verse,” I’ll chastise him,
    “Why do you persecute me?
    It’s taken time to find the rhyme
    Please tell us, who’s above thee?”

    I’m near him now,
    A mere small rise to go.
    The sun is haloing his head,
    His face he will not show.

    Now I stand upon his spot,
    Which makes me self aware.
    But when I turn to greet him
    There is simply no one there.

  4. Poems About Poems About Poems About Poetry | said,

    February 5, 2015 at 2:52 am

    […] Billy Collins Meta Poetry Compilation/Blog Post […]

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