Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Puppy Rolling

A poet asked me to write a blurb for the back cover of his new book. I said yes and wrote a few nice things about his poems. He wrote back saying he’d tweaked my blurb and sent the new version. Man, it was nothing like what I’d written. But the thing is, it made me look really smart, like I completely understood the inner workings and meanings of his poetry, almost as if I were living in the poet’s mind when he was writing the damn things, as if I’d stayed up late with him discussing whether fresh as a daisy is, well, fresh enough for a poem, so I said yes, go ahead, use the blurb you wrote, it’s much better than mine because the way I see it, writing blurbs is kind of like puppy rolling. Say what, you say. It’s like this: When I take Josie to the dog park she likes to find a puppy, preferably a rare breed like a Shiba Inu or a New Guinea Singing Dog and roll it down the hill. It doesn’t hurt the puppies. In fact, they seem to enjoy being rolled, but sometimes the owner, usually somebody who’s never accidentally dropped a baby or stuck a baby with a safety pin or taken eyes off the kid for five seconds and had to run into traffic to save it, somebody who thinks puppies are fragile, gets upset and tells me to stop rolling her puppy which I can’t really do, my dog having a mind of her own, so we just have to leave the park. All of this explains why when the poetry critic posted a comment saying he disagreed with the blurb I didn’t actually write what could I say – it wasn’t my dog? Instead, I just said I understood his concern over the fragility of American poetry, it being a rare breed and all, and unfriended him.

Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His collections of poetry include American Ash and Nightjar (Ragged Sky, 2020, 2021). Simms identifies as being on the autism spectrum.

Copyright 2021 Michael Simms. From Nightjar.

20 comments on “Michael Simms: Puppy Rolling

  1. Deborah DeNicola
    July 6, 2022

    I found this very intriguing and wished I could see the before and after of the blurbs. But the metaphor of puppy rolling is hilarious and so fitting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael B. Frank
    July 5, 2022

    Great, Michael. Here’s one it made me think of:

    Rescue Puppy

    My daughter’s
    youngest dog,
    is a mini pit bull,
    a friendly,
    happy barrel
    of energy
    on four short
    bow legs.
    a larger dog,
    say a St. Bernard,
    could wear
    on its collar
    to revive
    a lost
    and exhausted

    Michael B. Frank

    Copyright 2022 Michael B. Frank

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Zimmerman
    July 3, 2022

    I can’t love this enough. My German shepherd dog is a puppy-rolling sort. I can’t love him enough either❤️😂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Patricia A. Nugent
    July 2, 2022

    Love the story and style – simple in its interwoven complexity. My dog hasn’t rolled puppies – but would if he had the chance! Seems to have tried everything else.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. maryfranceswagner
    July 2, 2022

    Love this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ron Berlin
    July 2, 2022

    Your post reminded me of this anecdote. I had a client from India/Pakistan who came to Pgh and opened up a number of ethnic restaurants. He called me one day and said, Ron, I’ve written a book on my story and the secrets of the restaurant business and I want you to say on the back that I’m the greatest person you know. I said send me a chapter and I’ll write something in my own words. So he emails me the whole book, I don’t bother to read any of it, but write a glowing tribute about the immigrant coming here and his great success. A few months later he calls me and says we’re having a book release party at a local restaurant and I’d like you to come. I go and see my blurb on the back cover. I ask him for a copy and he says that will be $12. (I had probably done over $1000 of legal work which I never charged for). When I got home and read the book which was self published and poorly edited, I was appalled at how awful it was. I was embarrassed that someone might read my comment and buy the book. I doubt that anyone other than some friends and acquaintances bought it, but thinking about it always makes me smile. Not like puppy rolling, but a lesson learned for me. Regards, Ron

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 4 people

  7. melpacker
    July 2, 2022

    Great piece, Michael. Lovely way to start my day.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Saleh Razzouk
    July 2, 2022

    Comments are a new art emerging every where some time like nice roses but on occasions like herbs. Brotherly comments for backcovers are harmful and illigitamate. Misleading in another word.
    But it reflects passions and diplomatic relations among living poets.
    Once i read a blurb for kafka presenting him as being a thriller novelist, let say like Sherlock Holmes’ detective stories.
    But still it is imovative to look at kafka as a writer selling us murder stories..

    Liked by 2 people

  9. gdrew2013
    July 2, 2022

    Michael, Oh, my god—I will never think about blurbs the same way! Puppies rollingwill be the image that immediately rolls…er, pops?…into my head! Really hilarious—and telling…

    Woof, Woof,



    Liked by 4 people

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