From Category: Poetry and Humor
In this essay on the blog of Sundress Publications, an innovative small press, poet and writing teacher Amorak Huey surveys the work of some contemporary poets who use humor effectively, and reflects on the overlap between these genres. “Humor and poetry both rely on verbal surprise, the pairing of the unexpected. Humor in poetry works best when it's juxtaposed against some other mode: anger, insight, sadness, tenderness. Poetry happens when a poet presses up against the limits of language when it comes to capturing the human condition. Poetry is utterance, is act, is disruption, is the reaching for that which is understood but previously unarticulated. Humor is these things as well…Humor, like poetry, is how we cope with the fact of our aloneness in this world.”
Past winners include such treats as “Pottage Canticles 1 and 2” and “Our Love Is Electric (And I'm Yanking the Cord)”.
“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…. For the student, having a genuine insight into the true badness of some poems is, I think, a necessary corollary of having a grasp of what makes good poems good. So these pages present some classics of badness: supreme achievements of the lame, the naive, the meretricious, the bathetic, and the sentimental.”
Anagrams, palindromes, rhyming slang, nym words, oxymorons, pangrams, Tom Swifties and all the many other oddities of the English language. Don't miss the stirring tale of Beeping Sleauty.
Destined to become a classic among T.S. Eliot parodies.
You've probably heard “My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” by Mr. Shakespeare. Now hear from Ms. Mullen… My honeybunch's peepers are nothing like neon. Today's spe-/cial at Red Lobster is redder than her kisser. If Liquid paper is/white, her racks are institutional beige….
Francis Heaney's brilliant poetic parodies with a twist: the subject of the poem is an anagram of the famous writer's name. Hence T.S. Eliot opines on “Toilets” (“Let us go then, to the john…”), Coleridge's ancient mariner goes on an acid trip in “Multicolored Argyle Sea”, Blake lauds Fred Flintstone's wife in “Likeable Wilma”, and Ogden Nash wonders why his chickens aren't breeding in “Hen Gonads”.
Idiots' Books is a Maryland-based indie press that publishes offbeat, satirical illustrated books featuring the work of writer Matthew Swanson and illustrator Robbi Behr. Books are distributed through a subscription service. Titles include 'Dawn of the Fats', billed as “the oft-neglected examination of that special place where funnel cakes and zombiism collide”; 'Ten Thousand Stories', a book whose split pages can be recombined into 10,000 absurd but still grammatical narratives; and 'After Everafter', which gives ten classic fairy tales the same (mis)treatment.
Frank L. Warrin's translation of “Jabberwocky” into French weds nonsense to high culture. “Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux/Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave.” Whatever it means, it sounds very important in the language of Racine and Moliere.
British quarterly webzine of light verse, launched in 2008. Both published and unpublished work accepted. Read back issues before submitting.
Hilarious “executive summaries” of the Bard's first 20 sonnets, which show that he was obsessed with procreation.
This website collects and publishes the worst first sentences of imaginary novels (and some equally bad quotes from real ones).
In this charming and peculiar video clip, rediscovered at the Lambda Literary website, television personality Marie Osmond reenacts the origins of Dadaism with Hugo Ball's “sound poem”.
This YouTube video reinterprets the 19th-century poet's famous “Daffodils” as a hip-hop performance.
A treasury of the works of William Topaz McGonagall, “widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language.” A 19th century native of Dundee, McGonagall is famous for The Tay Bridge Disaster, “Which will be remember'd for a very long time.”
Luscious witty sestinas on topics great and small. “Anna Karenina (Or Like, Most of It)” is not to be missed. Submissions are accepted, if they're sestinas (definition and examples).
Located in a theatre basement in Massachusetts, the Museum of Bad Art is the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms. Why study bad art? Because art that is sincerely meant, yet unintentionally awful, can teach us what pitfalls to avoid in our own work. It can also be very funny, and (to quote the literary journal Ploughshares) “convey a distinctive and strange vision” that lifts it above banal badness. Better to fail ambitiously than succeed and be boring.
Portal devoted to nonsense literature includes links to classic humor from Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, and Punch magazine, as well as contemporary work.
Master of American light verse. “How are we to survive?” asks Nash. “Solemnity is not the answer, any more than witless and irresponsible frivolousness. I think our best chance—a good chance—lies in humor, which, in this case, means a wry acceptance of our predicament.” Bio. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Large collection of poems. Poems by topic.
Updated weekly, the literary humor site Pop Sonnets features popular song lyrics paraphrased as Shakespearean sonnets. Songs that come in for the highbrow treatment include LMFAO's “Sexy and I Know It”, Lou Bega's “Mambo No. 5”, the Village People's “YMCA”, and 50 Cent's (a/k/a “Sir Fifty Pence”) “In Da Club”.
This two-part essay by award-winning poet Brian Brodeur discusses the prosody of nonsense verse and compares it to other types of avant-garde art. Is it aesthetically significant, as a kind of distillation of poetry to its abstract elements of sound and rhythm, purified of “meaning”? Or is it just a sophomoric prank? Read Part 1 and Part 2 on The Best American Poetry blog.
The algorithm on this website will create haiku or rhyming quatrains from the text of any webpage. Not all of them are grammatical, but a found-poem can be assembled out of the best attempts.
Explore the freakatorium that is the English language. Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms. To cleave, for example, can mean to separate or to adhere. Insinuate bizarre new additions into your vocabulary. A hoyden, you'll learn, will seldom infucate. Then there are the conflicting proverbs. We also love Crazy Libs, another site by the same person. Together we amended the constitution as follows: We the waffles of the United States, in order to grope a more mushy filing cabinet,/wallop insanity, nuzzle conniving hunger, yell for the silky lust, bonk the greasy charisma, and ridicule the blessings of arrogance to ourselves and our frigidity,/do smack and defenestrate this wig for the United States of America.
Contestants compose poems from fragments of spam emails. Don't miss Enlarge Your Boss and I Answered All My Spam.
We are straying from poetry here, but it's worth it. This contest asks entrants to compose the opening sentence of the worst of all possible novels. Named for Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, originator of Snoopy's favorite opening line, 'It was a dark and stormy night.' Entry is free. The winner receives notoriety. Read the Lyttony of Grand Prize Winners.
Where a number of odd ducks gather to celebrate the work of Emily Chesley, Dr. Maximilian Tundra and their Victorian familiars. Don't miss their annual contest of speculative poetry and short fiction.
Hundreds of family-friendly humorous rhyming poems, written and illustrated by R. Wayne Edwards.
“Flarf” is a collaborative poetic technique that creates nonsensical poems from the results of odd Google keyword searches, Internet chat-room lingo, and the “corrosive, cute, or cloying, awfulness” of the amateur poetry that is popular in online forums. Begun as a spoof of Poetry.com's low standards, the Flarf “movement” also satirizes how so-called “mainstream” poetry is actually produced by and for an irrelevant elite class, while the poetry that most people read is the (generally bad) amateur poetry circulated between individuals and posted on the Internet. For more on the latter point, see the related website http://mainstreampoetry.blogspot.com/.
Award-winning poet F.J. Bergmann created this random sonnet generator by writing a dozen cliche-ridden sonnets with the same end-rhymes, which the computer program reshuffles to produce over 15 billion unique, dreadful poems. Submit one to your favorite vanity contest today!
This contest sponsored by Winning Writers pokes fun at the low standards of vanity poetry contests by awarding prizes for poems so bad they're good. From the off-color to the merely off-the-wall, these poems will give you a good laugh while also instructing you in how well-intentioned serious work can go awry. Squeamish folks beware.