August 18, 2012 - Bad Poetry Day

Since today's the day to write and read bad poetry, you can feel completely free to express your thoughts in verse. After all, if it's bad, that's a good! And, who knows? Maybe, by not trying to write a good poem, you may succeed in doing exactly that.

What makes some poetry bad? I suppose that one thing that jangles people's nerves is when a poet tries too hard to make his lines have the right rhythm or rhyme. Some critics have said that poets “torture” their poems in order to hold to a certain meter (rhythm) or rhyme scheme.

Here is an example of bad poetry, from a poem called “Mexican Food,” by Michael Ryndak:

I love Mexican Food
and Mexican Food loves me
Every time I eat it,
I say Yippee!
The yummy ground beef and the melted cheese,
once I'm done with one taco I say,
I'll have another please.
When it comes to restaurants,
Taco Bell is the best.
Once a month I go there for a crunch wrap supreme fest....

I think that there is another way of writing bad poetry: when you order your words in a complicated or weird way, or maybe use super-highfaluting vocabulary, the poem doesn't make much sense. I hate reading something over and over again and not being able to “get it”!

Elegy in a Spider's Web

What to say when the spider
Say when the spider what
When the spider the spider what
The spider does what
Does does dies does it not
Not live and then not
Legs legs then one
When the spider does dies...

Laura (Riding) Jackson

Bad Song Lyrics

My husband doesn't like song lyrics that throw in something that he feels doesn't belong, just to keep a rhyme scheme going. For example, the Turtle's famous 1960s song “Happy Together” is about a couple in love.

“Me and you, and you and me,
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be,
The only one for me is you, and you for me,
So happy together...”

All those lyrics make sense, but my husband just hates it when, near the end of the song, the Turtles are singing, “So happy happy together....” and they suddenly interrupt with the question, “How is the weather?”

Why did they put that in?” he asks (every single time he hears it!).

Good Poetry

Sometimes it's not so easy to say why you like some poems or song lyrics and don't much like other poems or lyrics. Here are two bits of poetry / lyrics that I do like:

The astronomer gazes out
one eye at a time
to a sky that expands
even as it falls apart
like a paper boat dissolving in bilge.
       – Katherine Larson

I crack a window
And feel the cool air cleanse my every pore
As I pour my poor heart out
To a radio song that's patient and willing to listen—
My volume drowns it out.
Yeah, but that's okay, 'cuz I sound better than him anyway,
Yeah, my voice is sweet as salt.
I search for comfort, and I find it where I've found it many times before,
Times before it could be forgotten...

–  Max Collins (Eve 6)

Write poetry, bad or good. 
Read poetry... 
Sing song lyrics...

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