Right up front: I am not a poetry fan. I love Dr. Seuss and I love Shel Silverstein, and they’re probably the only two I can rely on. I’ll occasionally find something moving or beautiful, but it’s not often enough to make it worth the while to sift through books of poetry. “Enlightened” friends scream and moan and recommend this or that at gunpoint, but–I don’t know.
The good news is, bad poetry is much more enjoyable than good poetry. I’m not talking about mediocre-bad. That’s easy to do. That’s what most poets do. I’m talking about poetry with a terribleness that is timeless. It is just as hard (or harder) to do timelessly bad poetry as it is to do timelessly good poetry. Don’t believe it? You’re going to.
Very Bad Poetry is a compilation of the worst of the worst. The poems span a range from the early 1800s to a century later. The greatest part of the book is that any of the poets featured in this book would be horrified to learn that they are featured.
Partake of this gem from Bertha Moore (1890s):
A Child’s Thought
This is from the “worst baby talk poems” section of the book.
Or this jewel from the morbid laugh-riot Georgia Bailey Parrington (1907)
An Elegy to a Dissected Puppy
Sweet Dog! now cold and stiff in death,
What cruel hand enticed thee here?
Did toothsome crust of juicy bone
Allure to stretch on they bier?
…ruthless hands of alien race
Are opening up they quiet breast,
With prying eyes they peer within,
Explore the contents of thy chest
HA! Bear in mind that someone who thought they were being very profound churned out this little atrocity and you start to see the charm of the book. People are endlessly fascinating because you can never predict what will make sense to any of us. There are always new highs, there are always new lows.
Not all of the poems in this book are as grim as that poor puppy’s elegy. Most are pretty upbeat, and many are just downright bizarre. Maybe this says something about me that I should be concerned about, but I can’t recommend Very Bad Poetry enough.
PS: Have you entered the Bad Poetry Contest?
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