Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is Bad Poetry Hereditary?

I have a guilty secret. Well, to be honest, I have quite a lot of guilty secrets, but only one I'm going to ramble about here - there is, after all, a limit to how much of my dirty laundry I want to wash in public.

I have begun to write bad poetry.

Strictly speaking, this isn't an intention to write bad poetry, just poetry. But bad is the result.

For some time, Ive made an occasional habit of answering the long-suffering Mrs Grumbler in rhyme. The first time was an accident, but I discovered that it annoyed her and, well... There's a challenge in being able to respond to a question like "Do you want a cup of tea" with an instantaneous sonnet, and the little 'frisson' of excitement while waiting to find out whether I have misjudged the current lie of the land and am about to wear said cuppa, rather than consume it. So far Ive been lucky, and have not had any need to retire, liberally moistened with steaming Darjeeling, for a change of apparel.

Things took an interesting turn in recent days when I composed a ditty, in Iambic Pentameter, offering to fetch some Christmas beer from a local brewery for my Friends and colleagues in the office. The resulting verse is truly, shockingly appalling - so much so that I shan't reproduce it here. This missive isn't meant to be an opportunity for me to ape the great William McGonagall, but rather the cause and effects behind this current dalliance.

The fact is that the offending ode plumbs depths which would make even Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz wince which has led me to speculate on whether there is in fact some extra-terrestrial makeup in my DNA. After reading the vicious verse to my pal Andy (who sits close to my office and therefore plays, unwittingly and uncompensated, the part of my resident, on-call shrink) I told him about my theory that I was, perhaps, part Alien.

Frankly, Andy pooh-pooh'ed the idea, telling me not to be so silly. How, he reasoned, could I be part alien when (a) I am not green and (b) I have never knowingly consumed a live rat. We've both watched a lot of TV, so we know that these two things are inherent characteristics of any martian or other non-earthperson. That's one of the things I really appreciate about Andy - while I might harbour quite ridiculous concepts, he always has a much better grasp of reality. Closer to the ground, if you like.

So, I'm back to the drawing board, in a manner of speaking. Carrying around a stump of pencil and a small notepad in my back pocket in case I'm struck by a stray piece of inspiration. The next bad poem might not be a result of my ancestry. But it's certainly in my jeans.


Meg Bear said...

I've come to trust anything that Andy says so I must agree you are not an alien.

That said, I have found myself to be the type of person who wants to like poetry but doesn't. I feel about poetry like I do about complex foreign films, deep novels etc. I'm just do not have the depth of character to work that hard to understand something.

I'm thinking of getting together a running list of stuff i *wish* I liked but don't.

Anonymous said...

There was a man named MacAmeter Who had an instrument of prodigious diameter But it wasn't the size that made the girls sigh, It was his rhythm- iambic pentameter.

Pam Ayres said...

There was an old Grumbler called Paul
Some said twas as round as was tall
Up for snacks in the night
He tripped over in fright
As his puppy had messed in the hall