After watching a series of Demetri Martin stand-up clips I am convinced he is a more successful poet than I am. I think I should probably just give it up. His jokes provide images that are simultaneously universal and personal, have flow, feel genuine and introduce concepts that articulate and allow us access to observations that we would otherwise keep to ourselves. Here is the special: ( and here are some jokes from which I removed some fillers and conjunctions:

a fruit basket enables you to mail someone fruit

without feeling insane

and my favorite fruit is grapes,

with grapes

you always get a second chance

I use the product I can’t Believe it’s Not Butter,

and sometimes when I’m eating toast

I like to be incredulous.

How was breakfast? Unbelievable.

See? Poetry. I observed the same poetic phenomenon in comedians like Maria Bamford. Her HBO comedy special (excerpts of which can be seen here: struggles with issues as small and personal as buying raisin bread in bulk and as large as loneliness and depression. She aims to entertain people with well crafted and unique approaches to comedy, but she ends up making statements about things like mental illness and god. “I’ve never really thought of myself as depressed as much as paralyzed by hope.” Maria says, streaked shaggy blonde hair and all.  Now if that’s not poetic I really wish someone would tell me what is.

Anna Beckerman, Assistant Poetry Editor