Thursday, October 29, 2009

A belated word of thanks to

all our readers at this year's Bad Poets Society, the ranks were a bit thinner but the talent and zeal and hu-uge.

Sarah Bazydola
Gene Doucette
Jon Haber
Colin Buckley

and also our longer suffering "artist in residence" and the Bad Poets Society's director, Joseph Zamparelli Jr.

You guys all hold up the very heavens as far as I am concerned, again thanks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

James McIntyre Invictus

Prophecy of a Ten Ton Cheese

In presenting this delicate, dainty morsel to the imagination of the people, I believed that it could be realized. I viewed the machine that turned and raised the mamoth cheese, and saw the powerful machine invented by James Ireland at the West Oxford companies factory to turn the great and fine cheese he was making there. This company with but little assistance could produce a ten ton cheese.

Who hath prophetic vision sees
In future times a ten ton cheese,
Several companies could join
To furnish curd for great combine
More honor far than making gun
Of mighty size and many a ton.

Machine it could be made with ease
That could turn this monster cheese,
The greatest honour to our land
Would be this orb of finest brand,
Three hundred curd they would need squeeze
For to make this mammoth cheese.

So British lands could confederate
Three hundred provinces in one state,
When all in harmony agrees
To be pressed in one like this cheese,
Then one skillful hand could acquire
Power to move British empire.

But various curds must be combined
And each factory their curd must grind,
To blend harmonious in one
This great cheese of mighty span,
And uniform in quality
A glorious reality.

But it will need a powerful press
This cheese queen to caress,
And a large extent of charms
Hoop will encircle in its arms,
And we do not now despair,
But we shall see it at world's fair.

And view the people all agog, so
Excited o'er it in Chicago,
To seek fresh conquests queen of cheese
She may sail across the seas,
Where she would meet reception grand
From the warm hearts in old England.

James McIntyre

And then there is James McIntyre, Canada's own delicated cheese lyricist. What makes his poetry so outstandingly bad aside from the dubious rhymes (exp: But it will need a powerful press This cheese queen to caress,)is that on the subject of cheese he is completely sincere! In fact over the course of his life, McIntyre managed to fill up an entire volume with nothing but poems about cheese. Of course by the turn of the century some sense of irony set in and his poems were syndicated mostly for their unintended comic effect thus proving bad poetry transcends the ages.
Anyhow let me remind you all, the Bad Poets Society returns to the Spiegel Auditorium at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education Tomorrow, Friday October 23rd at 8pm...admission a paltry $5 for a cornucopia of the world's worst verse! Once again we are deep in the throes of our research ceaselessly dredging poetry that makes last year's poesy look like freakin' Sophocles by comparison!
Don't miss it, now in it's tenth year (or so) of genteel substandard poetry mongering!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ghod Bless Edgar Guest...

He is almost forgotten these days, but if he had not existed, the Bad Poets Society would have to invent him. No other "legacy bad poet" is quite so trite, self satisfied, banal and unctuously corny even by the standards of 1928 than was the late Mister Guest.
In his day though, he was a big deal, syndicated into hundreds of newspapers and magazines, collections of his poetry sold very well although today he is an absolute obscurity.
the reason for that is simple, lyric poetry is no longer a popular art form, one hundred years ago, even lowbrow publications like the Hearst newspapers all had full time poets on their rosters to compose suitable poetic copy - these days zilch nada.
A comparable will to poetry these days in a popular vein is exclusively founds in song writing, rap lyrics etc, no one writes odes to Mom's Apple Pie or their favorite overalls anymore, not at least the way Edgar Guest did.
Let us have a look at a typical Guestian effusion:

Hard Luck

Ain't no use as I can see
In sittin' underneath a tree
An' growlin' that your luck is bad,
An' that your life is extry sad;
Your life ain't sadder than your neighbor's
Nor any harder are your labors;
It rains on him the same as you,
An' he has work he hates to do;
An' he gits tired an' he gits cross,
An' he has trouble with the boss;
You take his whole life, through an' through,
Why, he's no better off than you.

If whinin' brushed the clouds away
I wouldn't have a word to say;
If it made good friends out o' foes
I'd whine a bit, too, I suppose;
But when I look around an' see
A lot o' men resemblin' me,
An' see 'em sad, an' see 'em gay
With work t' do most every day,
Some full o' fun, some bent with care,
Some havin' troubles hard to bear,
I reckon, as I count my woes,
They're 'bout what everybody knows.

The day I find a man who'll say
He's never known a rainy day,
Who'll raise his right hand up an' swear
In forty years he's had no care,
Has never had a single blow,
An' never known one touch o' woe,
Has never seen a loved one die,
Has never wept or heaved a sigh,
Has never had a plan go wrong,
But allas laughed his way along;
Then I'll sit down an' start to whine
That all the hard luck here is mine.

Edgar Albert Guest

I love the phony midwestern cadences, dialect poetry was very very big one hundred years ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote in a chest bursting barracks dialect for some of his best war-poems and the rest of the pack followed suit, James Whitcomb Riley being a notable Amercan practitioner as well as Edgar Guest.
These two lines are particularly significant:
An' growlin' that your luck is bad,
An' that your life is extry sad;

"Extry sad"?
Deliberately deploying bad english is always a sign the author wants to conceal something, or so George Orwell once reasoned. Here though, Guest is just slavishly desperate to rhyme in a fashion seemingly familiar and unthreatening to his audience.
Rest assured Guest churned out dreck like this on a daily basis for forty or more years and never once varied from his formula theThree S's "schmaltz, sentiment and self satisfaction". Like many of the other A-List bad poets down thru the years. Guest never ever betrayed the slightest artistic growth or even wavered in his perpetual interest in writing ever more lyrics in praise of his old fishing hat or some shoes he wears to do the gardening.
While Edgar Guest is technically proficient (compared to lyric ineptoid like William McGonagall), the sheer cataract of triteness that is his work marks the man down as unintentionally hilarious even at his most solemn.

Monday, October 12, 2009

William McGonagall, poet, tragedian & "Knight of the Burmese White Elephant"

Well know as the worst poet in the English Language, only received one paying poetry commission in his entire life.
The Sunlight Soap company paid him two guineas to compose some doggerel in praise of their product:

Sunlight Soap

You can use it with great pleasure and ease
Without wasting any elbow grease;
And when washing the most dirty clothes
The sweat won't be dripping off your nose
You can wash your clothes with little rubbing
And without scarcely any scrubbing;
And I tell you once again without any joke
There's no soap can surpass Sunlight Soap;
And believe me, charwomen one and all,
I remain yours truly, the Poet McGonagall.

Now THIS is a bad poem in extremis. The questionable rhyme in the first two lines, the wretched imagery, the complete failure to rhyme in lines seven and eight, reiterates soap twice in the same line, and to crown all McGongall inexplicably commends himself to charwomen "one and all" for a peroration.
And still Sunlight Soap paid him.
Gord Bambrick, has put forward the notion that McGonagall (who when weaving went bust took to the variety stage as a poet and occasional Shakespearean actor) deliberately wrote substandard poesy and in reading his word with pretended sincerity reaped definite financial rewards from playing the part of inept aspiring artist. This interpretation puts McGonagall closer to say Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character than to a mere poetical bumbler.
Like Borat, McGonagall suffered for his art, "poet baiting" was all the rage in those days,local newspapers reported that the Poet was routinely pelted with rotten fruit in music halls all over Scotland.
For that privilege, McGonagall could count on wages around triple what a weaver could expect.
Bambrick's theory is interesting but I guess I'm a fundamentalist where McGonagall is concerned. I mean review the enclosed poem again, consider that he has been given a rare chance to write something with real commercial potential, if he turns in a good enough job who knows, maybe the "Burmese Knight of the White Elephant" can escape being cannonaded with old tomatoes in Glasgow?
And what does he do with this rare chance to escape? Nothing he turns in more of the rubbish he had been churning out for years, indeed he could do no other.
Well then again, McGonagall would not be the first artist to sell out for short money.

I guess...

this was NOT the day to try and comfort local sports fans with that old proverb, "It is only a game for God's sake!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Channel Zero is now

linking to the Happily Ever After" blog written by my old school chum Alexis Walker who wore a white lace bowler hat with a veil at her wedding.
I have the photos to prove it.
Anyway she is blogging about the romance novel genre (a gig she is trying to crack), I wish her well in all her endeavors.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pick of the Week...

Undoubtably it is the House of Usher/Tomb of Ligeia double feature screening tonight both starring that Solon of Scariness, Vincent Price.
Alas owing to pressing family business I haven't been able to make full use of this Poe film series at the Brattle, however I did get out to see "The Black Cat" and "The Raven" last weekend.
"The Black Cat" (1934)is an incoherent mess but it is also the closest thing to gothic surrealism ever to star both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, who plays the nominal hero for once.
"The Raven" (1935) is just plain overwrought fun, Lugosi was already on the downside of his career and took to chewing the scenery like a starving man. Karloff is as always compulsively watchable even in a underwritten role as a monstrous henchman.

Monday, October 05, 2009

It is vaguely symbolic to be wandering around the

Bedford Mass Stop-n-Shop looking for bananas and Grape Nuts whilst Britney Spears is heard over the sound system warbling her paean to pederasty "No Longer a Girl, Not yet a Woman" (or whatever the hell it was called).
Honestly, imagine the sheer computer "programmability" that is routinely dedicated to making that young woman sound like a half competent twelve year old.
Imagine what good you could do with computer resources like that, fight third world AIDS, fly to the moon, any one of a number of things...But no first we've got to get Britney's tracks on key.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On an errand of no great import

I found myself last Saturday afternoon down in the rehearsal spaces of the Berklee College of Music off Mass Ave. Strolling around down there is a amazement, perfect music issues from each and every rehearsal room, jazz, blues, piano concertos, kids jamming with electric guitars, it is the ultimate musical buffet to be sure.
Sure enough, I had a "Babbitt-ish" sort of thought, that is must be wonderful to be so young and gifted with music...Of course the kids lounging around the lobby likely felt differently, I had to gingerly step over a young girl's carelessly disgarded mandolin on my way out after all.
Ah youth ahhh whatever.