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“Crack Monkeys,” “wangster gangsta jew,” & Other Bad Poems

JK Evanczuk / Monday, October 26, 2009 Comments Off

bbbbaaad poetryI have a special fondness in my heart for bad poetry. Partly because I’m a terrible poet myself so I can’t help but identify with fellow terrible poets. And also partly because, as I’ve discussed before, I think there’s a lot to be gained by disregarding the rules of “good” writing–how else are you supposed to further your craft if you’re not willing to take risks?

So in the spirit of taking risks, and of totally missing the mark, there’s Very Bad Poetry, an online journal featuring such gems as these:

“crack monkeys” by matthew arens

oh, my god
what have i done today

i spiked all of the towns bannanas with crack

and the town fell into dissaray
cuz the crack monkeys are on parade

poo flys through the air and banana marmalade is made
cuz the crack monkeys broke out of thier cage
this monkey carnage made the front page!

what have i done, what have i started, monkeys took my wallet, then sat on my face and farted

monkeys attacked me, and ripped my clothes to rags

but it was also funny cuz the monkeys where dressed up like old hags

and where holding banana filled shopping bags

“wangster gangsta jew” by Isaac Berger

im a wangster
im a gangsta
im a jew
that doesnt rhyme
so ill pop you
im scary
and just a little hairy
im straight
that doesnt rhyme
so ill pop you

Hm. This poetry reminds me of two things. First, Flarf, because it’s so horribly bad that it’s actually good. And second, a new column from McSweeney’s entitled “YouTube comment or e.e. cummings?”, which is exactly what it sounds like and very much worth a read. It’s interesting–some of the e.e. cummings lines sound surprisingly plain out of context, while apparently YouTubers are spontaneous poets, waxing philosophical with such comments as “What is nothing?”. Good Lord.

It makes you (or at least, me) wonder if our standards of “good” versus “bad” poetry are largely–though not entirely–arbitrary. Because if it’s possible to confuse a YouTube comment with an e.e. cummings line, and if “bad” poems now have an online journal dedicated solely to them (and also–if people are reading and enjoying these bad poems, then doesn’t that make them by default just a little bit good?), it’s entirely plausible that some bad poetry is not really bad–rather, merely mislabeled and underappreciated. Maybe we’ll be reading an anthology of YouTube Comment Poetry somewhere in the near future. Maybe bad poetry (that is, poems that are written with the specific goal of being awful) is the new avant-garde.

Eh, but then again–maybe not. It’s possible I’m being too forgiving here, what with my affinity with bad poets and all that.  What do you think?


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More: Poetry
  • http://alicross.blogspot.com ali

    I think this is wickedly funny. And, I agree. I’m not sure with what exactly . . . but, err . . . it’s funny. So there.

  • http://tpaperny.wordpress.com/ Tanya Paperny

    The first one is sort of a limerick, no?

    I have written a ton of bad poetry, mostly as an emo teenager, but when I recently lost a bunch of my files due to a hard drive failure, I lost a lot of it! Not sure if that’s a bad thing or a good thing…

    Also, the Youtube comments or e.e. cummings list is BRILLIANT.

  • http://thoughtsfrombotswana.blogspot.com Lauri

    Tanya, I thought you wrote you lost your flies. I was very intrigued by that, a bit disappointed when I realised it was only your files. (though sorry about that)
    I have a feeling bad poetry may just need to sit it out until the right time comes around and it becomes good without any edits.

  • http://www.litdrift.com JK Evanczuk

    I totally agree. It’ll come in style some day, eventually. It’ll be the new Twitterature.

  • http://www.gorelets.com/blog/ Mike Arnzen

    I love the bad poetry and other ‘eflarfium’! THANK YOU for turning me on to these sites, which I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise (and would continue to write and publish myself, unaware!).

    Is that book cover graphic from a real book?

  • http://www.litdrift.com JK Evanczuk

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one loving bad poetry. And YES–”B is for Bad Poetry” is a real book. [link here]

  • http://the-second-look.blogspot.com Haley Wulfman

    Agree! Love the bad poetry. However, did have to beg and plead with poetry.com to remove some really horrifying garble I submitted when I was thirteen, should a google search ever reveal it under my name. Won’t offer that up for your consideration!
    Perhaps, a poet who writes in neglect of the ‘rules’ defines a category of his own, a type–that which is NOT good, by comparison–and thus can turn us on to what we deem ‘valuable’ or ‘invaluable’.

    Love reading your stuff, Jules!

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