Poetry for Southern California


Jerry Garcia Guest Editorial










Notes on the Risqué

by Jerry Garcia

On the discount table at one of those chain bookstores that I really should boycott, I found a collection of cartoons that had been rejected by the New Yorker. Titled The Rejected Collection – Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See in the New Yorker, this book was full of “risqué, silly and weird cartoons.” Since the first cartoon made me chuckle and the book was heavily discounted, I bought it. In this book, along with a collection of clunkers, were some funny cartoons that were written and/or drawn in bad taste.

This editorial is not a book review. The book has inspired some conflicting thoughts I have about good taste and spoken word. As a middle-aged man ensconced in the pop culture and entertainment trends of my lifetime, I often enjoy the risqué and the prurient. I have been to bachelor parties in my day. I have laughed in locker rooms with my buddies. Fine lines exist between risqué humor or erotic sensuality and downright scatological language. As society has loosened up, motion pictures, stand-up comedians, television comedies, and poets are crossing those lines by taking shortcuts toward arousing their audiences. This may be a disturbing trend to some of us. Most educated people I know stand apart from this tendency.

As a poet, I have not engaged in many works of erotica, which I believe to be a challenging craft. It tests my ability to incite desire by arousing sensual feelings, rather than drawing pictures that detail the sexual act in a crude manner. I have seen poets attempt the former resulting in the latter. In the company of my peers, I have been embarrassed to hear newer and experienced poets speaking in x-rated shortcuts. I am not sure if being born in the 1950’s has anything to do with this sensitivity. This is not a diatribe against the “f” word. I am not railing against sexual depiction or even promiscuity. Certainly, speaking freely is the right of all poets and I support that right.

I just believe that if we are poets it is our job to use imaginative and elevated thoughts in our language.