If you like bad poetry, look forward to the world’s worst poetry contests, and are intrigued by the argument as to what might be the worst poem of all time – then, National Bad Poetry Day is for you.
The dog days of summer are here, for those of us who want something quiet to do, there is Bad Poetry Day, which falls on August 18th. There are a lot of mediocre poets who write mediocre poems out there who would like to air their works, and everyone is hot, tired – ready for the fall weather to arrive. Well, perhaps, not everyone, there are a few of us who actually like the hot weather, as well as Bad Poetry.
We’re not talking about the poetry greats – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Basho, Elizabeth Acton, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, the verses from Psalms, and Sylvia Plath need not be read at a bad poetry reading. However, there usually is someone who will read a verse from one of these classics, at a poetry reading, which is, in itself, okay – what’s funny, a few of the folks in attendance will also agree that the poem is a bad one.
Remember the world’s worst poetry contest hosted at the hardware store in Pismo Beach, California – well, most of us don’t, in fact, the majority of us will not ever go to Pismo Beach. There are reasons why bad poetry events are hosted in out-of the way places, namely, people will flock for the chance to read their poetry, or have their friend or family member vie for the coveted trophy or prize, or just have an audience be at least a little bit offended by their poetry. Don’t worry, the fans of bad poetry have other contests to enter online, there are bad poetry contests to this day.
If a person isn’t up to traveling, and is more than a wee bit tired of submitting poetry online, a Bad Poetry event is an ideal all-ages show, especially on August 18th, just prior to most colleges start-up for the university season, when almost everyone can have a little inexpensive potluck or wine and cheese party.
Then, there’s the really ugly-looking chap book, which might or might not have decent poetry, that nobody is able to read, which will no doubt, be circulating in some form or another. A lot of people have dismal failures in self-publishing, and mediocre chapbooks abound at bad poetry readings.
Even the wildlife get to listen to the outdoor poetry readings, which are usually harmless, even if the poetry itself is eminently forgettable, at best, at a bad poetry contest, or other reading. Of course, the soliloquy about something like a short short story or a treatment to a one-act play is allowable, as it is short. Even a short song, or dedication should be allowed, as not everyone is able to read their poems, and most of us have stage fright, if your guest is on stage and can actually speak for 15 – 30 seconds, that’s a bonus.
Then, there’s the attention hog, who goes off topic and wants to turn the bad poetry reading into his or her own soapbox meet, or socio-political campaign, who will need to be squelched after 3 – 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the majority of bad poetry contests have at least one of these in attendance, as well as a lot of bad poetry readings. If the host or hostess must allow the “open mike night” speech instead of a poem, please use an egg timer and your kitchen timer, set to three minutes, plus your stop watch.
Then, it is time to turn off the mike, or get someone else to be on stage, and the host or hostess must politely play moderator and bouncer in order to get the next poetry reader on stage without violence. With a little caution, and a few proactive individuals to help, a live poetry reading can be a successful and fun event.
For those of us who are going it alone, or who have nobody sensible to help manage the event, it is best to leave the live events to others, and stick to the online celebration of Bad Poetry Day this August 18th.
About.com has an article about disastrous poetry whose subject matter was that of train wrecks, which might be a great thing, for an impromptu reading, done in a monotone. There’s other really bad poetry out there – have fun searching for it.