No doubt you’ve been waiting all year for me to host my annual BAD POETRY CONTEST at MacGregor Literary. Next week is my birthday (a big one — I hit the big Five-Oh), and I always try to celebrate by inviting all the bad poetry my friends can muster. Just go to the bottom of this blog, hit "comments," and post some lousy piece of doggerel as your way of joining in the celebration. That’s right – You can be published! Right now! On my blog! Aren’t you just wetting your pants in anticipation?
It can be a crappy couplet, a crummy bit of free verse, a lousy limerick (let’s stay away from rhyming with the city of "Nantucket"), or any other ditty you create that shows what a sensitive and thoughtful artist you are, when you don’t happen to be worrying about your lack of a book contract or whining about the bad job of marketing your publisher is doing for you.
Warning: This is not a "birthday blog." So don’t feel you have to write a poem about birthdays. It’s just your chance to share your true deepfulness and reflectiveosity. You’re an artist — go art.
For those not in the know, this contest grows from my belief that every poet has the same message, which can be subtly summed up this way: "LOOK AT ME! I AM SENSITIVE AND REFLECTIVE AND NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME! SO I’LL SHOW THEM HOW DEEP I AM BY WRITING POETRY!" (Feel free to edit that statement if you’re truly deep and meaningful.) I want you to know that I’m here for you poets — in fact, I was once accused of being sensitive, and have occasionally been forced to reflect on something, until I could grow up and get over it. Therefore, I’ve set aside the next few days just for you. Write! Create! Sit and contemplate your navel! Do…um…whatever it is you poets do while the rest of us are out earning a living. (Drink heavily?) Then send me your bad poetry.
In case you’re really a poet, and you’ve missed the point here, we’re looking for BAD poetry. The more hideous, smarmy, self-righteous, sappy, or obtuse, the better. Don’t expect me to represent it — if you’re too sensitive to notice, there’s no money to be made in poetry, so my looking at your crud won’t do you any good in the market. Sorry.
But there’s a rich tradition among British novelists of creating really horrible poetry behind one another’s backs. P.G. Wodehouse, a brilliant writer and one of my lifelong heroes, used to create truly awful stuff. He once included in a book’s introduction the words, "With a hey nonny-nonny and hot cha-cha, And the sound of distant moors…"
Um…really. And if Plum can do it, YOU can do it. So send! Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of rhyming words yearning to breathe free. This is your chance to share your true depth and meaningfulness with the world…or at least with the group of people in publishing who read this blog. Don’t delay — start constipating now! In fact, I’m going to give all those under the age of 25 a hint to get you started: There are only four words in the English language that rhyme with love: "Dove" and "Above" are the popular choices. "Shove" and "glove" don’t really count. Use of the baby word "Wuv" can get you shot. (British citizens who enter are allowed to use the word "guv," as in "guv’nor," but don’t push it. We Scots have been pushed around by you people long enough.)
And the best news of all…the winner, chosen by an experienced team of expert bad poets (me, and maybe my friend Mike Allison, if he agrees to buy the Guinness) will receive a special GRAND PRIZE: a copy of Does God Ever Speak Through Cats? — a self-published book the author sent me in hopes of getting me to represent it. Truly a life-changer.
What can I do to make one see,
I do so love bad po-e-try.
It is, to me, a sort of balm,
And writing it just makes me calm.
For each time that I sit and write,
I show my depth, reveal my plight.
I’m really a reflective sort,
Hiding in my writing fort,
For rhyme and meter, brevity.
So come join my happy clan,
Write something – show me you’re a man!
(Or a woman, if you aren’t home
to the Y chromosome.)
We await your craft and work,
Know that we will go berserk
When, upon this blog we see,
All your best bad po-e-try.
(The Most Reverend Chip MacGregor, Birthday Boy, Old Fart, President of the Bad Poetry Society)