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Odd Poem Explained

If you haven't read the odd poem yet,
you should go here now,
and shortly you'll be back here again.


The poem you just read is my submission to an amateurs-only poetry contest that is frequently advertised in the Sunday color supplements to U.S. newspapers.

The deal is, if you submit a poem of 20 lines or fewer you can win a cash prize, but even if you don't win your poem might still get included in an actual book of such poems that the contest sponsor publishes every so often.

Then they will be happy to sell you that very expensive book full of poetry written by people whose only qualification to write a poem is that they can afford to buy the book with their poem in it.

OK, here's the deal with the poem.

  • The initial letters spell out a sentence: This "contest" is a scam. -JG  (The "JG" is my initials.)
  • The initial letters of the title spell out a word.
  • There's more such silliness here.

I made the first words of several of the lines odd and inexplicable just to draw attention to their initial letters.  Beyond that I mostly tried to make the poem as bad as I could, so that it would be that much funnier if the "National Library of Poetry" decided to publish it.

The poem also contains all sorts of silly self-indulgences that I never expected anyone to get.

  • The words "dianic," "dizzy," "prairies" and "puppy" refer to Irc acquaintances, although one of them has become more than an acquaintance.  aka and B and BB will, I expect, be living together sometime soon.
    (Update of December 2001:
    We have indeed been living together, for a year and a half so far.  Update of December 2002: We're still at it, and B is now nearly nine.  Sometime before I know it she will have spent more than half her life with me as one of her father figures.  Update of December 2003: B has grown a remarkable 3 inches in just the last 12 months.  Update of December 2004: A and B and I have moved to a newer, bigger, better house.)
  • I used the word "orange" in this poem because it is an example of words in the English language that have no rhyme (others are purple, silver, and month).  I later used the phrase "door hinge" because someone whose name I forget wrote a well-known poem, la Ogden Nash, in which he discussed how "orange" has no rhyme and then forcibly rhymed it with a Cockney pronunciation of "door hinge."
  • "Elvis' slive lives Levi's veils' evils" is just a bunch of anagrams that arguably form a nonsensical but grammatically correct sentence.   (Yes, "slive" is a word.)  For examples of a different kind, go here.
  • "Naked sheaves of raked leafs" appealed to me because "naked" and "raked" look so similar but sound so different.   (How does anyone ever learn to speak English as a second language?)   And, of course, it should be "leaves," which, if it had been, would have rhymed with "sheaves."

There're a bunch more such self-indulgences like that sprinkled yonder and there, but the point is that I wanted to write the worst poem I could.  Feel free to how I did.

Update of Janaury 2005: of Perth, Australia, brought to my attention a scandal in that country from back in the early 1940s that I had never heard of: the case of the poet Ern Malley.

She says, "Your creation, 'Journeys On Kansas Earth',  reminded me to some degree of an Ern Malley effort titled 'Culture as Exhibit', a rather spectacular load of balderdash.  There are still many living who remain silent to this day when Ern Malley is mentioned."

Perhaps I'm not the most objective one to make this comparison, but Ern's poetry and mine seen remarkably similar, certainly in purpose but also in style.  Here are a few of the 10,000 links about Ern Malley that Google scrounged up: ERN 1, ERN 2, ERN 3, and ERN 5.


Apparently I'm not the only person to have figured out the "National Library of Poetry's" arrangement with poets they decide to publish in their anthologies.  Dave Barry did a hilarious piece on it in late 1998.

The magazine Consumer Reports figured it out too, and they published an illustrated article about it in the "Selling It" department on the inside back cover of their March 1998 edition.



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