Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Having a bad writing day? Don't worry, you're not as bad as this guy.

I wish I could find the journal I kept when I was 13 years old. It was FILLED with completely awful poems, like a lot of journals by a lot of angsty teenagers. I would like to think, perhaps pretentiously, that my poetry was especially bad. I mean, I wrote a poem about the sun dying. And a murder mystery poem. And I'm pretty sure I once used the extremely original metaphor of comparing my teenage anger and angst to a volcano.

I have since given up on writing poems. In college I even turned in a poem (in my FINAL portfolio for poetry workshop) about how I can't freaking write poems.

The good news is, a lot of people actually can write poems. (Click on the words to see some of my favorites.

But the BETTER news is, there are a couple authors floating around history famous for the fact that they could absolutely not write poems.

Lest you think I simply enjoy  mocking others, believe me, I love the rush of inspiration that comes from reading something brilliant.

But...sometimes what you need isn't brilliance. Sometimes on a particularly terrible writing day, reading brilliance only makes us more aware of all our shortcomings, and we fall into a really wonderful cycle of self-loathing and self-pity. So...sometimes what you need is proof that someone did it FAR worse than you and still got published. If you can laugh heartily while you seek out that proof, so much the better.

My favorite cure for an "I suck worse than anyone else in the world" attitude is a guy named Theophilus Marzials, because he wrote an absolutely awful(ly hilarious) poem called "A Tragedy."

An excerpt, in case you don't believe me:

My thought is running out of my head;
My love is running out of my heart,
My soul runs after, and leaves me as dead,
For my life runs after to catch them -- and fled
They all are every one! -- and I stand, and start,
At the water that oozes up, plop and plop,
On the barges that flop
                              And dizzy me dead.
I might reel and drop.

And the shrill wind whines in the thin tree-top
                           Flop, plop.

(Also, later on in the poem, is proof that the word "ugh" existed in 1874. Who knew?)

Okay, maybe not everyone finds bad Victorian poetry as funny as I do (English majors have a weird sense of humor) but seriously, what the heck was he thinking when he wrote this? And what was he thinking when he published it?

Anyway,  if anyone else has ever read any particularly bad poems (bonus points if the poems are from the first half of the 20th century or earlier) and cares to share with me, that would be fantastic.

Flop, plop, y'all.


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