The Art of Poetry in the Milky Way Galaxy


On the planet Tharthrush, class status, sense of worth, employment and place of government funded residence are all determined by poetic competition. Members of the indigenous species begin writing verse in adolescence, somewhere between the ages of 37 and 151. Families and teachers alike encourage this interest. In fact poetic competitions are more common and more highly attended than sports events. They are used to settle disputes, the writer of the better poem being declared the winner.

The only fitting topic for poetry on the planet Kluthrik is the state of the poet’s intestines. They are multi-colored, one hundred and fifty-seven feet long, and worn in intricately braided patterns on top of the poet’s head.

Changing temperature patterns emanating from and toward their communication tentacles are the bodily source of the poet’s art on the planet Limnit. Occasionally, in moments of intense poetic rapture, Limnit’s most famous bards have been known to spontaneously combust.

The last time a poem was written on the planet Narzand was 157,000 years ago. The original manuscript is insured for 67 trillion Narzand pounds. It is taken out of its security vault once every hundred years and read in public, on the anniversary of the poet’s death.

The sole criteria for poetic excellence on the planet Hu is length. Hu’s poet laureate, Nia O, is best know for her six trillion word epic, “9426 Nights in a Semi-Illuminated Cave.” Largely autobiographical, this work was left unfinished when the poet met her untimely death in an avalanche. When her body was found beneath the rubble, Nia O was still clutching in her hands the unfinished notes for nights 9427 through 9438.

Poetry is way of expressing feelings that cannot be conveyed in regular speech. It allows us to be tender, spirited, and spiritual. Poetry allows our souls to speak through us. But once in our galaxy’s history, on the planet Lupi, poetry was the vehicle for disaster. The ghastly war that resulted in a nuclear holocaust began when the Empress of Rhii called the Regent of Narnu’s birthday poem in honor of her father the Dowager Emperor Ilzin, “A puerile attempt at public sentiment, insipid and bombastic.” Hostile factions gathered around the Empress and the Regent. Hostilities escalated. Tragedy followed.

Poems on the planet Ganthrazine are grouped according to which of the three sacred themes they write about. The sacred themes are rocks, the changing of the seasons, and pudding. According to the ancient Venerable Poet’s Guild, there was in Ganthrazine’s past a fourth sacred them, whose subject matter has been lost in the annals of time, and in the planetary archives in the city of Garzish.

The planet Vorzine, known for its beautiful hieroglyphics, is the home of a living, communal, poetic tradition found nowhere else in this galaxy. Vorzinites are tattooed by parents, friends and lovers with a continuous spiral of poetry that may eventually cover their entire bodies. That spiral is always begun by ones parents, above the left eye, and Vorzinites are known to each other by that first poetic line. The current ruler of Vorzine is, “In the darkness of a moonless night.” Her predecessor on the throne was her paternal great-aunt, “Suddenly, pulsing and throbbing.”

Poetry on the planet Quingi is written and chanted in an entirely different language than that used for normal conversation, or in works of prose, in letters, etc. As each of Quingi’s seven sexes is trained in a different mode of poetic composition, the body of Quingan work is extensive, rich, and beyond my capacity to adequately judge, especially in so short a space as this exercise provides.

The successful completion of a poem on Garginak is the occasion for a public suicide celebration by the poet. The green, gray and purple races are nearly extinct due to this Romantic custom introduced by the child wonder Nelbikangik Arvenathuravay. The stolid orange race, preoccupied with a sport somewhat like baseball, has not fallen prey to this condition.

On the planet Rufwik, poetry is considered the art of thieves. Pre-conceived but quickly scrawled poems are left behind in prominent places by robbers. They are expected to entertain and enlighten their victims in compensation for their material losses. Calligraphy and paper texture are also considered a part of the total composition. Master-works are treasured for generations by families that have been robbed. Thieves who do not leave poems behind are subject to apprehension under the law, and sentenced to the amputation of a finger for each such crime. The work of Rufwik’s greatest genius can be found in The Collected Works of Natway, Diamond Thief.

My own work is largely unpublished.