Study Guide

Constantly Risking Absurdity What's Up With the Title?

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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What's Up With the Title?

The title is everything here. Why? Well, the poet's entire existence rests on it. He's "constantly risking absurdity" in everything he does. Say he goes to get a cup of coffee. Guess what: he's "constantly risking absurdity." Or let's say he wants to put on a little performance for us like an acrobat. Then too, he's "constantly risking absurdity."

But wait a minute. What does it mean to constantly risk absurdity in the first place? Well, we think he's pointing to the fact that when you write poetry (which is really the only everyday activity a poet cares about), you are always running the risk of sounding like a total wacko. Let's face it: poetry (and even art in general) is known for being a bit confusing, a bit strange, and even, at times, incomprehensible. But still, the poet soldiers on.

Yep, there's no rest for the poet. And we know by now that everything he does is a challenging, even dangerous creative process. But it's not all in vain, for we know that on the other end of that high wire is Beauty, ready to leap and risk it all for our man. That's what makes constantly risking absurdity totally worth it.

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