Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This is Bad Poetry Day



Who knows who decrees these quirky "holidays," but my co-host on 101QFL, Darren Marlar, tells me that today is "Bad Poetry Day."

Which touched off a discussion between the two of us about what constitutes bad poetry. Neither of us qualify as ardent fans of poetry. (Most people know that when it comes to reading, my drug of choice is fiction.)

I do love many poems, though. One of my personal favorites is Reluctance by Robert Frost, and I really like some of his other poems. I love W.B. Yeats' way with words, even when it's a little obscure. Some of Shakespeare's sonnets, some Annie Johnson Flint (as I blogged about a few days ago), even some Keats and Byron and Browning would make it on my list of favorite poems.

But... I maintain a lot of what people who think they are poets write, is really quite awful...or mediocre at best. Filled with trite cliches, corny sentiments, and forced rhymes. Usually though, everyone "oohs" and "aahs" because this person has managed to put together some words that make sense and rhyme at the same time.

I found this on a webpage
that is actually devoted to the subject of bad poetry: "There is a huge amount of bad poetry in the world. Although new bad poems are being written by the hundreds every day (many of them in university creative writing classes), most bad poetry is simply weak and ineffectual and lacking in interest and (fortunately) is soon forgotten.

"To achieve memorable badness is not so easy. It has to be done innocently, by a poet unaware of his or her defects. The right combination of lofty ambition, humorless self-confidence, and crass incompetence is rare and precious."

Yep, that quote pretty much nails it.

That site maintains that one of the worst poets of all time was one William McGonagall. Here's a brief sample of one of his poems:

"Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seemed to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say --
'I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay.'"

OK...you get the idea.

But, how do you spot bad poetry? What is the criteria? Well, my internet search actually turned up a poem that explains how to spot bad poetry. This from someone posting as "Enforced Bliss" on a website for writers:

"How To Spot Bad Poetry

A page despoiled with thee’s and thines
To hide the vacuum of the lines
Cryptic phrase and twisted verse
Trite filagree agrandized dearth

Derivative style and poorly thought
Hackneyed image baneful wrought
Playing obvious slave to insipid rhyme
Like I did in these last four lines


Word stumbles on top of word
Myriad follow the pointless first
Saying nothing new in no new way
Bowed below unearn’ed bay."

Wow, that sums it up pretty well.

Quoteworthy...

Michael Gallaugher (talking about the Bay Area in California, but it could really be about Anywhere, USA): "...one half of the strip mall stores are devoted to making your body fatter by eating, or beautiful by cosmetics or exercise."

Ain't it the truth?

And, Rick defines courage in his blog today: "There are two components that I find missing from the cultural definition of COURAGE today: Fear and Faith. Without Fear, courage is arrogance & cockiness. And without Faith, Courage wastes away to cowardice & indecision. There needs to be real Fear and real Faith, mixed in proportion, for Courage to be courageous."

My wedding anniversary is tomorrow...

Doug and I are both insanely busy right now, so I kind of doubt if we will be able to do any significant celebrating until perhaps the weekend. But I was surprised and pleased to get an e-mail from the Baptist Board informing me of a thread there wishing me a happy anniversary. I don't post there all that often, so it was nice to be remembered.

1 comment:

joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

oh, but! -- hmm. well...i suppose it's ok to celebrate one bad poetry day out of the year, so long as we acknowledge good poetry for what it is the other three hundred and sixty-four.

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