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February 5, 2011

Over-the-Top: POETRY with Pizzazz . . . and a CONTEST!


By Kim Harris Thacker, writer and mommy

I’m married to a poet.  A real, professional poet, not just a love-poem-on-Valentine’s Day poet (Those kinds are nice too).  Which means I’ve had remarkable poems thrust into my hands quite frequently.  Being a writer of fiction for young people, however, I feel a certain affinity toward very whimsical poetry—the kind of poetry that got my attention as a kid.

You’ve read the kind of poetry I mean—clever rhymes that make you giggle, extraordinary poems that put you in awe of the writer’s grasp of the English language.  Poetry is everywhere!  Even in fashion.  Bookshop Talk’s own Amy Finnegan saw a t-shirt the other day with this haiku on it (A haiku is a Japanese three-lined poem that traditionally evokes images of the natural world using five syllables in the first line of the poem, seven in the second, and five in the third line):


Find this here 
Haikus are simple
And they needn’t make much sense
Hippopotamus

Amy had a fit of giggles resulting in an epiphany, wherein she suggested to me and to our host, Jessica Day George, that Bookshop Talk should do a post on over-the-top poetry.  What fun!  Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Back in 1906, Charles Scribner’s Sons published a collection of poetry called, A WHIMSEY ANTHOLOGY.  The poetry was collected by Carolyn Wells and is a pure delight.  I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite, over-the-top poems from A WHIMSEY ANTHOLOGY.

In time for Valentine’s Day, here’s a love poem with horrid grammar, by A.W. Bellaw:

Conjugal Conjugations

Dear maid, let me speak
    What I never yet spoke:
You have made my heart squeak
    As it never yet squoke,
And for sight of you, both my eyes ache ache as they ne’er before oak.

With your voice my ears ring,
    And a sweeter ne’er rung,
Like a bird’s on the wing
    When at morn it has wung.
And gladness to me it doth bring, such as never voice brung.

My feelings I’d write,
    But they cannot be wrote,
And who can indite
    What was never indote!
And my love I hasten to plight—the first that I plote.

Yes, you would I choose,
    Whom I long ago chose,
And my fond spirit sues
    As it never yet sose,
And ever on you I must, as never man mose.

The house where you bide
    Is a blessed abode;
Sure, my hopes I can’t hide,
    For they will not be hode,
And no person living has sighed, as, darling, I’ve sode.

Your glances they shine
    As no others have shone,
And all else I’d resign
    That a man could resone,
And surely no other could pine as I lately have pone.

And don’t you forget
    You will ne’er be forgot,
You never should fret
    As at times you have frot,
I would chase all the cares that beset, if they ever besot.

For you I would weave
    Songs that never were wove,
And deeds I’d achieve
    Which no man yet achove,
And for me you never should grieve, as for you I have grove.

I’m as worthy a catch
    As ever was caught.
O, your answer I watch
    As a man never waught,
And we’d make the most elegant match as ever was maught.

Let my longings not sink;
    I would die if they sunk.
O, I ask you to think
    As you never have thunk,
And our fortunes and lives let us link, as no lives could be lunk.

And another cleverly-spelled poem with an anonymous author:

The Cow—a Bovinity

O gentle cau,
Contented frau,
Inert, exempt from violence.
We will allau
That you know hau
To chew your cud in siolence.



Here’s a shaped poem, also by an anonymous author:

A Type of Beauty

Here
hang my bangs
o’er eyes that dream,
And nose and rose-
bud lips for cream.
And here’s my
chin with dim-
ples in.
This is my
neck with-
out a speck,
which doth these snowy shoulders
deck;   and   here    is  —  see,   oh,
double  T – O - N, which girls all
wear,   like  me;   and   here’s  a
heart, from cupid’s dart, safe-
shielded by this corset’s art.
This is my waist too tightly
laced on which
a bustle big
is placed.
This  is  my
dress.  It’s cost,
I  guess,  did  my
poor papa much dis-
tress, because, he sighed
when  mamma  tried it on,
and    scolded    so    I    cried;
but mamma said I soon would
wed  and buy pa’s clothes for him
instead.   It’s   trimmed   with    lace
just  in this place,  ‘neath  which  two
ankles  show,  with  grace, in  silken hose
to catch the beaus who think they’re lovely. 
 I suppose.             These are
  my      feet             in slippers
 neat,   and             now if we
should chance to            meet we’ll flirt
       a    little   on   the            street. How sweet.


Did you catch the bra joke in the middle? 

Moving on.

Did you ever send messages to your friends using only letters of the alphabet and numbers?  Like, “E Z 2 C U R A Q T.”  Sorta like primitive texting.  Well, here’s an anonymously-authored love poem for today’s text-happy youth, particularly suited for young women named Emily: 

An Alphabetical Wooing

Let others talk of L N’s eyes,
And K T’s figure light and free,
Say L R, too, is beautiful—
I need them not while U I C.
U need not N V them, for U
X L them all, my M L E.
I have no words when I would tell
How much in love with U I B.
So sweet U R, my D R E,
I love your very F E G;
And when you speak or sing, your voice
Is like a winsome L O D.
When U R I C, hope D K’s,
I am a mere non- N T T.
Such F E K C has your smile,
It shields from N E N M E.
For love so deep as mine, I fear,
There is no other M E D.
But that you love me back again—
O, thought of heavenly X T C;
So, lest my M T heart and I
Should sing for love and L E G,
T’s me no more—B Y’s B kind,
O, M L E, U R, I C!

Here’s a marvel in alliteration—an anonymous poem that uses only words that start with M:

My Madeline

My Madeline, my Madeline!
Mark my melodious midnight moans
Much may my melting music mean,
My modulated monotones.

My mandolin’s mild minstrelsy,
My mental music magazine,
My mouth, my mind, my memory,
Must mingling murmur “Madeline.”

Muster ‘mid midnight masquerades,
Mark Moorish maiden’s matrons’ mien,
‘Mongst Murcia’s most majestic maids
Match me my matchless Madeline.

Mankind’s malevolence may make
Much melancholy music mine;
Many my motives may mistake,
My modest merits much malign.

My Madeline’s most mirthful mood
Much mollifies my mind’s machine;
My mournfulness’ magnitude
Melts—makes me merry—Madeline.

Match-making mas may machinate,
Manoeuvring misses me misween;
Mere money may make many mate;
My magic motto’s “Madeline!”

Melt, most mellifluous melody,
Midst Murcia’s misty mounts marine,
Meet me ‘mid moonlight—marry me,
Madonna mia!—my Madeline!

Who doesn’t love made-up words that follow grammatical rules that make them seem real?  This poem by Lewis Carrol is probably very familiar to most of you: 

The Jabberwocky

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,
  
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  
And stood awhile in thought.


And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head
  
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
  
He chortled in his joy.


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

My poet husband has a Roman nose, so I had to include this next poem (which has every line ending in a word that rhymes with all the other lines) in his honor.  It is attributed to Merrie England, which may be someone’s pen name, but is more than likely just a generic name used when a witty bit of writing is of English origin.

The Roman Nose

That Roman nose! that Roman nose!
Has robbed my bosom of repose;
For when in sleep my eyelids close,
It haunts me still, that Roman nose!

Between two eyes as black as sloes
The bright and flaming ruby glows:
That Roman nose! that Roman nose!
And beats the blush of damask rose.

I walk the streets, the alleys, rows;
I look at all the Jems and Joes;
And old and young, and friends and foes,
But cannot find a Roman nose!

Then blessed be the day I chose
That nasal beauty of my beau’s;
And when at last to Heaven I goes,
I hope to spy his Roman nose!

Until now, I’ve shared with you poems that rhyme (aside from the hippopotamus haiku).  But does poetry have to rhyme?  Nope.  In fact, lots of poetry doesn’t rhyme at all.  So does that mean that a person can write anything and call it a poem?  No.  Even free-verse poetry follows rules.

The following, non-rhyming poem is by Miller Williams.  It is a sestina, which means that it has six stanzas of six lines each, and each line ends with one of six words, which are repeated in a fixed order.  Go ahead and read—you’ll see what I mean.  Why did I choose this somewhat somber poem for this over-the-top poetry post?  Because this sestina goes way beyond many sestinas, in that it shrinks in size, making it very difficult, I imagine, to keep the form.  It. Is. Awesome.

The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina

Somewhere in everyone's head something points toward home,
a dashboard's floating compass, turning all the time
to keep from turning. It doesn't matter how we come
to be wherever we are, someplace where nothing goes
the way it went once, where nothing holds fast
to where it belongs, or what you've risen or fallen to.

What the bubble always points to,
whether we notice it or not, is home.
It may be true that if you move fast
everything fades away, that given time
and noise enough, every memory goes
into the blackness, and if new ones come

small, mole-like memories that come
to live in the furry dark-they, too,
curl up and die. But Carol goes
to high school now. John works at home
what days he can to spend some time
with Sue and the kids. He drives too fast.

Ellen won't eat her breakfast.
Your sister was going to come
but didn't have the time.
Some mornings at one or two
or three I want you home
a lot, but then it goes.

It all goes.
Hold on fast
to thoughts of home
when they come.
They're going to
less with time.


Time


goes
too
fast.
come
home.

Forgive me that. One time it wasn’t fast.
A myth goes that when the quick years come
then you will, too. Me, I’ll still be home.

Ahhh….Pretty amazing, huh?  Let’s make that our last poem—aside from those that you, dear readers, leave in the comments! 

Bookshop Talk would like to invite you to participate in an Over-the-Top Poetry Contest, which will be judged by you - the readers.  Write some over-the-top poetry that will make your fellow Bookshop Talkers laugh!  It can be gushy, slapstick, overly-introspective, even bad poetry, anything goes, as long as it’s over-the-top (but let's keep it clean and kind).

This is all in good fun (no critiquing allowed, all you English professors out there!) so let's have a good time!

To enter the contest, write your poem in the comments section of this post, starting it off with "POETRY ENTRY," then give your poem a brief name so people can remember it when they vote. You don't even need to tell us your real name!

Then, you can all vote on the poem that you find most entertaining. SUBMIT YOUR VOTES TO BOOKSHOPTALK@GMAIL.COM (we couldn't get a poll working quite right). You can vote at any point before Feb 13th at 11:59 PM. Each email address can submit a vote for a new poem at any time, and you can also vote for more than one poem in a single email, but you can only vote one time for each poem.

Shakespeare's SonnetsThe winner of the Bookshop Talk Over-the-Top (say that ten times fast) Poetry Competition will win a copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.  Yahoo!  You can enter as many poems as you want (as well as solicit as many friends as you want to vote for your poem)!

The winner will be announced on VALENTINE'S DAY, Febrary 14th! 

We also wanted to let you know that the Poetry Foundation is hosting a give-away in honor of National Poetry Month, which is in April.  You can receive up to ten copies of their April issue of Poetry for free.  Click here for more information.

Now get crackin’ on those poems!

38 comments:

Laura said...

POETRY ENTRY

"Horror Haiku"

(admittedly inappropriate for Valentine's Day, but I've always disliked February)

Full moon hanging low
Bare branches scraping the sky
Distant shrieks of fear

Dry linen wrappings
Rustle and crack as they tear
Mummy walks tonight

Bright white canine teeth
Pierce tender jugular vein
Yum says the vampire

Don’t dig swimming pools
In old Indian graveyards
Or you’ll be sorry

Kim said...

Two things:

Laura's post is AWE-SOME!!!

And...my excellent friend, Jerry, informed me that the whole "Double T-O-N" thing isn't what I thought it was! I'm so relieved. :) The poem reads, "...and here is--see, oh, double T-O-N, which all girls wear, like me." Anyhow, if you read that aloud, you'll realize it spells c-o-t-t-o-n! Girls were padding their bosoms with cotton back when this was written. THANK YOU JERRY! You're my hero!

If you all got that the first time, and I didn't, I'll be a little bit embarrassed. :)

Off to work on my poem!

Alexa @ Not Enough Bookshelves said...

Kim I love this post, so great and such great poems, Especially An Alphabetical Wooing. Although it took me a few attempts to get going LOL I"m too old :)

Joelle said...

Very fun post!

DC said...

Poetry Contest

THE WAY PEOPLE WALK


From their heads to their toes
Their lilts and their throws
Heads on right
Heads on tight

You can see what it means
What goes on in their beans
It's not what they talk
It's the way people walk

A telling sign
The mean and the kind
With every step
The lame and adept

It's what they are
It shows in their stock
All is told
In the way people walk

Charlie Pulsipher said...

I am so glad you got the Jabberwocky in there. Lewis Carrol was a genius at nonsense words. I'll have to dig out some of my old poetry when I go home for lunch.
Funny Stuff I Write

Amy Finnegan said...

I couldn't get a poll to work right (urgh), so I've changed the post on the main page to now say this:

SUBMIT YOUR VOTES TO BOOKSHOPTALK@GMAIL.COM (we couldn't get a poll working quite right). You can vote at any point before Feb 13th at 11:59 PM. Each email address can submit a vote for a new poem at any time, and you can also vote for more than one poem in a single email, but you can only vote one time for each poem.

Kim said...

I'm loving your poems, folks! Keep 'em coming!

I've never been fond of math, so this poem that I wrote (not for the contest, but for you Bookshop Talkers' particular reading pleasure--or torture--alone) is all about math.


Mathematics

One plus one must equal two,
unless you’re speaking of the shoe.
For one and one must then be “pair,”
and “pair” is neither here nor there.
For “pair” might mean a set of socks,
or trousers, or some plaid culottes.
Or “one” might be one pod of peas,
and then what have you? If you please,
you’ve got a pod with peas galore.
And if you add two pods, you’ve more!
One plus one with pods might be
a case of six, or eight, or three
(No, never three, for peas don’t come
in halves in pods, so that was rum).
Thus, maybe we should do away
with mathematics for a day.
For if the numbers do not “plus,”
I fear my mind will be a muss.


As if it's not a muss already! Happy poetry, ya'll!

Katie L. said...

What a great post! I don't know much about poetry, but the haiku t-shirt had me laughing out loud, as did several of the poems (though is it just me, or did "Conjugal Conjugations" go on for several stanzas more than it really needed to?). Either way, so fun! Thanks a bunch for digging these up. :-)

Sarah (Sew Very Happy) said...

POETRY ENTRY

I live in the Midwest, so here's my contribution:

Snow

Freezing, cold and white
Falling through the day and night
Winter never ends

Amy Finnegan said...

GOOD ONE, Sarah! I'm right there with you (unfortunately). In the snow, I mean, not the Midwest.

Drip, drop, slippity, slop,
Jack Frost is cold and ruthless!
If he stays here another day,
My fist will make him toothless.

:)

Laura said...

POETRY ENTRY

A Labrador Retriever’s Poem

Ball!
Ball! Ball!
Oh, happy day!
Yellow tennis ball!
Ball! Ball! Ball!
Fetch it!
Ball!

rlwrites4u said...

HAIKU ENTRY

Winter's are longest
in the mountains of Midway
UTAH!

Valette M. said...

I have never been a poet, so I won't attempt a poem. But I forgot how much I enjoy poetry!
"I want to win a book."

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