I’m sitting here on the couch watching the Inauguration Ceremony for Obama and stumbling through random web pages. A few minutes ago I stumbled on a poem about Inauguration Day and Barack Obama.
I read the poem. Aside from being forced in some verses, the words painfully and awkwardly shoved into the rhyme scheme to create the poem, it’s obvious that this author likes to write. If you look at his site, he’s fairly prolific and likes his poetry. (by the way – all of us poets struggle with the balance between awkward phrasing and meeting the scheme requirements of a poem)
Still, this poem annoyed me. I re-read it. On my third read I finally understood what the problem was. The poem was dishonest.
The viewpoint presented in the poem was that no man deserves to have such adulation and “worship” the way Barack Obama does. It implies that change cannot happen in our nation because of this undeserved hero worship. The poem states that everyone deserves a parade – not just the President.
Also in the poem it religiously drops God’s name and, by association, Jesus. So, in one poem the author implicitly agrees that one man (a man he approves of) should get parades and attention (we celebrate Christmas in his honor after all) and yet another man should not have a parade. By celebrating Barack Obama we demean the rest of the world but it’s OK to celebrate Jesus.
This led me to comment in a rather cavalier fashion on his blog about his apparent dishonesty. In truth, I should have waited to gather my thoughts – my comment was unfair because it did not explain itself. It was nothing more than a minor flame.
The point of the comment though, was that I could not enjoy this poem because it was so obviously dishonest. It contradicted itself. Dishonest writing insults your readers.
Readers are able to discern, to read between the lines. When an author is dishonest the reader feels cheated. I’m not talking just about contradictions within the writing itself. It takes a lot of skill to write true “Devil’s Advocate” believable. If you’re not careful, your readers will note the deception and learn to very quickly question what you say.
Trust with a reader, once broken, is almost impossible to regain.
So, authors, write what you know. Avoid contradictions. Be honest.