Very Bad Poetry Book Review


Very Bad Poetry by Kathryn Petras

Very Bad Poetry was a gift. An old girlfriend gave it to me with a note that said, “This is the worst of the worst of the worst. Of the worst.” It is one of the funniest books I have ever read, and all the more so in light of the fact that the poets featured within would be horrified at their inclusion.

It’s like the Bad Hair book, but with words.

Allow me to present some titles and lines.

Yes, there were poets who took…

  • A Pindarique On The Grunting Of A Hog (“Harmonious Hog, warble some anthem out!)
  • The Stuttering Lover (And n-n-nev-ver get d-d-d-divor-divorce)
  • The New Baby ( I is so s’eepy, An’ wants to do to bed…)

And much more.There is also a biographical introduction for each author, and in some cases the bios are funnier than the poems.

The book is edited by Kathryn Petras, one half of the duo responsible for the stupidest things ever said books, which are also a howling delight.

I have never felt like I have the tools to appreciate poetry, even though I majored in English. In a modernist poetry class we were all asked to name two poets we loved, and two that we hated. My two favorites were Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. I was pretty much indifferent to everything else. What I was not indifferent to, I was often hostile toward.

Hostility based on “just because,” I guess. I didn’t enjoy reading poetry.

But wow, I loved reading really, timelessly bad poetry as much as I enjoy anything in life. I imagine that it’s probably as difficult to come up with something incomparably bad as it is to write a masterpiece that lives forever because of how great it is.

I imagine that the best poems are highly calculated by masters of the craft. That’s certainly what my professors and many people I respect believe.

The worst of the memorably awful poems are probably just as calculated, but with the opposite result. These are not just mediocre or boring. Anyone can do that.

Read the book. Live it, love it, and recite the poems aloud and dazzle your audiences everywhere you go.

On a sidenote, I found an old poem of mine in a journal, written after going to Pasadena to a Movement Disorder Clinic.

I went to Pasadena

I showed some birds my weenah

Now I’m back, the van is black,

And out of gasoleenah!

This poem is much better than most of what is found in Very Bad Poetry, because I did not take it seriously at all. When earnestness goes horribly awry in poetical form could have been the subtitle of the book.

And now I can’t stop thinking about this, so I’m going to give more lines from the book that just came to me. This was from a poem about a maniacal ringmaster telling his clowns they’d better get in line and start performing, no matter what.

Jump and turn, you devils! And be possessed with mad laughter!

…What’s that? What’s that you say?

Your child is dead?


Turn twenty handsprings right away, or else by God I’ll stop your pay!



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