Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bad Poems Are Good for the Blog post

I was at a conference for English teachers Friday and Saturday, and Saturday attended a workshop on writing Bad Poetry. The instructor, author Chris Crowe, a lovely professor of English from Brigham Young University, gave us five minutes to create a Bad poem. The irony is in order to write Bad poems, one must know something about good poetry. For example, a parody of Robert Frost’s “A Road Not Taken” ( The Toad Not Taken) falls flat if the audience has never studied the original.

Chris made the distinction between Bad Poems and drivel, or what he terms Sad poems: verses tend to focus on awkward syntax, unnecessary repetitions, forced rhymes, themes of death, darkness, and heartbreak, and over the top sentimentality, earnestness or anger. The kind of poems I wrote in high school, and no doubt scribbled out when I first began writing. (I’d like to think I have improved somewhat.)

Chris likened the appeal of Bad poems to Bad movies, and cited an NPR story entitled Company Bets Bad Movies are Good For Business.
He also noted the 2004 American Idol contestant William Hung who was so bad yet we fell in love with his infinite charm.
So being Bad can be good for us.

Chris showed examples of his own, like a limerick to lyme disease called Lyme-rick.

In four minutes I wrote this silly ditty entitled
Brushing My Teeth With Harrison Ford

The spicket breathed like Darth Vader
As if it were a tomb raider
That Indiana Jones discovered
And stole as he hovered
To escape the snakes on a plane
Funneling al his energy down the drain.

Horribly fun stuff. Since I had another minute I cranked out this gem:

O my love is a red, red velvet painting of Elvis
bought at a garage sale with the money I stole
from your wallet as you slept
in the back of your rusted pickup.

So here is your assignment.:
Write a Bad poem. Take a good poem you know well, and parody its syntax, rhyme scheme or form. Or take an offbeat point of view, like a Zombie Haiku. Write a Zombie love sonnet in iambic pentameter.
Abuse the language. Have fun with it. Have a contest with fellow poets as to who can write the Worst Bad Poem. Make the Prize something Awful like a Bad book you bought at Goodwill or the ubiquitous fruitcake.

This exercise will {hopefully} help you to get over yourself and free up energy to write real poems.

Happy Writing.


  1. I love your bad poetry, Moe -- I think it's funny, especially as it deals with the unexpected, humorous side of life, and it's so unusual. You ought to consider a whole book of bad poetry. I think the humor....and bad poetry (if you market it as such).... would sell :) Look at it as a whole new genre. Not everyone can write good bad poetry

  2. LOL. A book of my poems WOULD be a book of bad poems. :D.

  3. Hi Laura, I find the art of writing bad poems incredibly easy. All you have to do is try and write ten good ones. One of them will probably be great. Two others will be good. And the remaining seven will be bad... or, at best, slightly less than mediocre. Ha ha ha. I love your Elvis poem. Sometimes when we try to be bad, we end up being good. Mark

    1. Thanks, Mark. It's supremely freeing to be intentionally bad, and yes, you inadvertently write something half decent.