Manly Meter: ‘Broetry’ Provides Poetic Meanderings for the Everydude

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A bro in his natural habitat.

Would a bro by any other name still be as chill?

That’s one of the many questions posed indirectly by Broetry: Poetry for Dudes, available today. The poems take a scrutinizing look at issues that may or may not be important to the young men of today; issues as far flung as beer, girls, video games and, you know, Bruce Willis’ filmography.

Self-professed “broet” Brian McGackin — an MFA grad from the University of Southern California, one of SoCal’s many bro epicenters  — penned the collection to marry poetry’s rich tradition with sensibilities appealing to today’s everyman.

(PHOTOS: A Brief History of Bro Culture)

“Poetry is portrayed as an extremely highbrow, borderline elitist art form and is generally not accessible to casual readers,” he says. “I think poetry should be for everyone.”

Despite the book’s gimmicky premise, McGackin establishes himself as a capable wordsmith who accomplishes what he sets out to do: entertain. In “Ode to Taylor Swift” (his first foray into the broem genre) he pens the following couplet:

Marry me, Juliet. You’ll never have to
hate my truck, I can’t drive stick (I know, f*cked up).

Or take for instance “O Captain! My Captain America!” which borrows from Walt Whitman’s humanist take on Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and extends the allegory to Marvel Comics’ winged-helmet superhero:

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and shake it off;
Rise up — and thaw your costume some — you’ve been gone long enough;
They found you in a block of ice — some old frozen stranger;
But now they’ll have you lead their club, they’ll call you
an Avenger;

It’s not e.e. cummings, but that’s not the point. The Venn diagram of dude culture and the literature world at first appears to have a slim overlap. But McGackin suggests that it’s more than a niche worth occupying, one that speaks directly to a wider intersection of cultures than one would reasonably expect.

“Robert Forst wrote poems about baseball; Hemingway loved bullfighting; I play a lot of Xbox,” he says. “Just because I’m not some old fogey writing on a typewriter about deer tracks in the snow from a cabin in Minnesota doesn’t make a broem not a poem.”

Nor would a rose by any other name, we guess.

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