Great news: The 2012 Bad Poetry Contest is here!
As you know, each day here on the blog we offer wisdom and thoughts on the business and careers of writing. And over the last six years, it’s proven helpful enough that Writers Digest has again named us one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. But one week each May (the week of my birthday), we take a week off from the business to continue a wonderful longstanding tradition of creating truly awful poems. All you have to do is go to the bottom of this post, hit “comments,” and leave your bit of doggerel. The rules are simple:
1. Don’t sent me a birthday poem. That’s not the point. Anyone who sends in “Happy Birthday o’ Chip o’ mine, hope this finds you well and fine” will be banned for life.
2. Write a truly bad poem.
That’s pretty much it. We want to see your poetic soul. The rotten rhymes, the horrible haikus, the crappy couplets, the stupid cinquains, the execrable epics. We’re after flatulent free verse, sorry sonnets, putrid petrarchan, rachitis rondeau, sickly sestina — um, okay, you get the picture. A quick view back over previous winners reveal such treasures as Blind Puppy on the Freeway, Walleye Eludes Me, and Krziette, which contains this memorable line: “Krziette, your love for me was like lowing of she-goats in spring, when bald sparrows alight on budding bushes.” It’s that sort of deepfulness that will cause you to win.
And there WILL be a winner, of course. Each year, we select a truly fabulous grand prize (previous winners have included a lava lamp, a home-tattoo kit, a 45 record of Neil Diamond singing “I Am, I Said,” and a copy of the immortal self-published tome “How to Good-Bye Depression”). This year’s collectible super-prize will be THE LADY GAGA STYLE BIBLE, which should hold wide appeal to all trampy girls, as well as boys under the age of, roughly, 14. And yes, this could be yours!
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. Then send in 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 fabulousness 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 crud 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 that 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 three words in the English language that rhyme with love: “Dove,” “Glove,” and “Above.” Use of the baby word “Wuv” is a federal offense. (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.)
Time for you to enter. The poetry contest runs all week…