Work by 2009 Master of Arts Alumni of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Monday, March 15, 2010
"Poetry so bad it's Good," by Abigail Deutsch
What are we to do with lines like these?
We have seen thee, queen of cheese, Lying quietly at your ease, Gently fanned by evening breeze, Thy fair form no flies dare seize.
All gaily dressed soon you'll go To the great Provincial show, To be admired by many a beau In the city of Toronto.
We might grow slightly nauseated. We might (who knows?) get hungry. We might gleefully illuminate the poetic palsies that weaken the frame of this work, James McIntyre's "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese": the clanging rhymes, the collapsing meter, the misguided coronation of a Canadian dairy queen.
Alternatively--as we reread in delight, as we probably just did--we might note the workings of a mysterious alchemy. Just as milk ferments into cheese, so can bad poetry, in this and other cases, transform into something rather enjoyable. Like a pungent Roquefort, bad poetry can stink in marvelously complex ways.