Regular Poem: Tap vs. Ballet

27 Jul

Writing styles are like
dancing styles.

I’m a tap girl:
I like quick, energetic writing,
full of active voice,
lightly peppered with punchy
colloquialisms but
formal in form,
joyful in tone.
You don’t tap to
mournful cello solos or Celine Dion ballads.
You can tap to rap,
but who would want to?
No, tap is anachronistic,
synchronized, syncopated,
highly punctuated with shuffle steps and semi-colons and dashes and butterflies,
and just
slightly pedantic:
Tap insists upon apostrophes before gerunds and whoms and a big smile.
But tap will allow a well-placed ain’t and a little pop-and-lock influence.

Of course,
some prefer ballet
with its endless pirouettes and henceforths,
its high, elegant kicks, and high, elegant diction.
You see it and feel it more than hear it.
And if it’s done poorly, it seems even sloppier than most other kinds
because its perfection is difficult to achieve
but easy–especially in the absence thereof–to notice.
Lithe sinews leaping together
must leap perfectly together,
and all those five-dollar words
are nonsense if not perfectly executed.
Ballet can be languid or vigorous, but each
is beautiful and hard (though seemingly soft),
and if you chasse on the wrong beat, place that comma somewhere
even slightly stupid,
you may gain your audience’s sympathy
rather than admiration–if
your audience is being generous.

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