The HyperTexts

Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?

Is Bruce Dale Wise a poet who has lived up to his last name?

In my original review, which you can read by clicking the hyperlinked name of the group, I suggested that The Society of Classical Poets should consider a name change to The Keystone Scops. In this review I am going to suggest that Bruce Dale Wise should do the right thing and change his name to B.D. the unWise ...

by Michael R. Burch

Related Pages: The Society of Classical Poets, A Review of the Society of Classical Poets' Literary Journal, Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or Pretender?, Evan Mantyk's Poetic Tic, James Sale's Blue Light Special, "How to Write a Real Good Poem" by R. S. Gwano, Salemi's Dilemma, Salemi Interview and Responses by other Poets

Bruce Dale Wise begins his enormously lengthy bio—how the Keystone Scops do love to go on about themselves!—by calling himself a "poet and prosaist." Now one might assume this has something to do with good writing, but let's examine the evidence just to be sure. Below is an alleged "poem" written by the alleged "poet" that was posted on an alleged "poetry" website that is allegedly "edited" by Evan Mantyk, the founder of the Society of Classical Poets. I believe I have already amply demonstrated that the Keystone Scops never read a bad formal poem that they didn't immediately fall in love with and praise effusively. So we should not be surprised by anything published by the scops, as long as it jingles and/or rhymes. Here is an example of B.D. the unWise at work:

We have attracted Mr. B— about this Garden Tea.
Perhaps he’ll find some honey, buzzing round about with glee.
Gee whiz, he is, a busy body with his little sting.
Perhaps he’ll keep us ever watchful with his bid-dle-ing.
Collecting nectar for his ever-growing essay’s length,
perhaps he’ll make it longer, ever-stronger in its strength.
But look who’s fluttering about the flowering pear tree.
It’s Mr. Mockingbird. He seeking insects for a treat.
His SCoPe is wide; he flies so high; he sweeps across the sky.
Perhaps he’ll find a fuzzy buglet when he’s flapping by.

Please ignore the schoolboy-ish punctuation in line three and the broken English in line eight. When masters of the English language are at work, they are not subject to the same rules as mere mortals! No, we must consult their bios to understand and properly appreciate their literary prowess. It's not what they write, but what they write about themselves that really matters. According to B.D.'s extensive bio, he is the creator of poetic forms such as the bilding, the duododecad, and the American sonnet. I will go out on a limb and guess that the poem above is called a duododecad, a name I will quickly shorten to "dud." And it certainly lives up to its nickname.

However, as important as self-important literary bios so obviously are to our apprehension of how the penners of such awkward constructions can be considered "poets," I must take issue with one item in B.D.'s very august bio. As he deliberates at great (and exacting) length over his literary achievements, B.D. informs us that Anthony Hecht accused him of "a 'Keatsian pretention.'" Now, I feel confident that Hecht did not accuse B.D. of just one "pretention." Surely he used the term in a universal sense, since "pretention" pervades B.D.'s poetry and prose. Having read B.D.'s bio, one can hardly blame Hecht for having become tense before venturing to peruse his work. Also there is certainly nothing Keatsian about B.D.'s writing, so perhaps Hecht was being coy or cute. (Jokes aside, did Hecht use a rare archaic term or did the possessor of a computer science degree misquote him, then fail to use his spell checker?)

On second thought, I will take issue with something else in B.D.'s epic-length tome to himself. In his typical self-important manner, B.D. informs us that he once communicated with "a rather doddering old Richard Wilbur" whom he "nevertheless, moderately admired." First, I'm going to guess that Wilbur, on his worst and most doddering day, would never have produced the trainwreck above. Second, I will refer B.D. to Wilbur poems like "The Death of a Toad," "The Writer" and "The Barred Owl," just to name three off the top of my head. If Wilbur is only moderately to be admired, where does that leave B.D. and the scops? Have any of them, even once in their entire careers, come remotely close to the excellence of "The Death of a Toad"?

Is B.D. the cat's meow of poetry, an exquisite purr that has yet to be properly appreciated by felines with lesser ears? That seems to be the gist of the name-dropping section of B.D.'s voluminous bio. But I, for one, remain unconvinced ...

B.D. seems to have a fetish for superfluous commas. For instance: "... they had and reared two children, Douglas Donald, and Stephanie Elise" and "Did these researchers, furthermore, detect, the residue / of quiet resignation in the metred lines construed?" But in B.D.'s defense, how could he possibly know? As he pointed out in the thread where he posted the error-riddled "poem" above, the scops are not known for literary criticism. But their bios rock!

Like so many other great poets whose names have unaccountably been forgotten, B.D. arbitrarily drops critical words like "against" when they don't fit his meter: "We have the right to never be discriminated for / our personal particulars, details, facts, and more."

Like foreign poets who at least have the excuse of writing in a second language, B.D. sometimes drops necessary articles as well: "As Russia is the 2018 host of World Cup."

Like amateurish would-be poets around the world, B.D. resorts to wrenching inversions in order to achieve end rhyme: "So workers will be practicing to be light-hearted more. / For visitors it looks like goofy Russians are in store." Or B.D. may resort to easy (and inappropriate) rhymes: "Just one day after famous daughter Carrie Fisher died, / her mother Debbie Reynolds also passed away in stride." Is a mother following her daughter in death taking things "in stride" or the opposite? And what on earth does her daughter being famous have to do with a mother's love? 

B.D. sometimes waxes redundant: "At this point in his life, the main poetic influences in his life were William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Gerard Manley Hopkins." 

B.D. sometimes sounds like Yoda, sans the wisdom: "Fake news is rather difficult to say just what it is."

I can't remember finding similar problems in the published works of Wilbur, Hecht, William Stafford and Elizabeth Bishop, the four poets named in B.D.'s commodious bio. Has he been slighted, or were they simply the better writers and craftsmen?

The Keystone Scops, despite their repeated failures to produce noteworthy poems, are all about praising each other. Joseph S. Salemi is "America's greatest man of letters." Joseph Charles MacKenzie has written "many" sonnets that are better than Shakespeare's, not to mention having produced the best lyric poems in the English language! Evan Mantyk can teach anyone how to write "classical poetry" in ten minutes, despite never having produced a credible poem himself, as far as I can tell. James Sale is "one of the finest communicators in the world" despite specializing in pidgin English. B.D. jumps on the bandwagon by wondering if Mark Stone is America's best poetry reader (despite my diligent and generous efforts on his behalf!). And of course it's just a wonderful coincidence that they all happen to be best buds who ended up on a dumbed-down website where they keep praising each other to the skies. Never mind that their poems and prose are riddled with glaring errors of logic, grammar and punctuation. After all, it's not what they write, but what they write about themselves that really matters. The proof is not in the pudding, but in the "pretention"!

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