Thursday, May 22, 2008

When Bad Poetry Prevails

When we did national Poetry month last year it was a very different animal than this year (which I thought was wonderfully executed). Last year, it was kind of thrown together willy-nilly and everyone just started mass emailing poems quickly floding email boxes - which despite my adoration for poetry, pissed me off to do something dickey.

I decided to google "world's worst poem" and eventually found a poem called "The Tay Bridge Disaster". You can click on the link and see for yourself, but trust me, it lives up to it's legendary reputation. It was fun getting feedback from colleagues and them skating around how horrible my entry was; classic fun!

Anyway, a month and a year later, the following story shows up in "believe it or not" fashion in The Boston Herald:

Worst verse bests Harry Potter scribe
By Associated Press Saturday, May 17, 2008 Europe
EDINBURGH, Scotland - A long-dead poet internationally renowned for having scribbled some of the worst verse ever seen through the ages beat publishing phenom J.K. Rowling at auction yesterday.

A collector paid $12,840 yesterday for original works by William Topaz McGonagall. Up for sale by Edinburgh auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull was a collection of 35 poems McGonagall self-published in the 1890s, in which he rambles about everything from a theater fire and the life of Robert Burns to women’s suffrage and Britain’s imperial wars.

McGonagall’s work outstripped a collection of rare and inscribed Harry Potter [website] books by Edinburgh resident J.K. Rowling, which fetched $12,000 at the same sale.

McGonagall’s lack of talent was matched only by his delusion and ego. Along with the 35 poems were a portfolio of posters and two copies of his rather short autobiography - dedicated to himself, “knowing none greater.”

Known as the “Tayside Tragedian,” after his dire poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster,” McGonagall was ridiculed during his lifetime. He kept an umbrella with him during recitals for protection from rotten tomatoes.

But he has attracted a cult following. “Everyone knows him as the world’s worst poet, but we are still talking about him today and he’s attracted an international audience here,” said Alex Dove, books specialist at Lyon & Turnbull. “He’s appreciated because he’s comedic, he’s got bad vocabulary and the rhyme is cringeworthy.”

How friggin' nuts is that?

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