The joys of bad poetry

Good poetry is not easily written, taking skill, discipline, lots of practice and so forth. Bad poetry on the other hand, is available to all of us. We might be naturally bad, or we might hone it deliberately. Bad poetry has the potential for being really funny, especially in a context where the whole point of the exercise is having a giggle. To this end, I am going forth and perpetrating workshops in how to right atrocious poetry, with a view to having a bit of a slam afterwards, and a lot of laughter.

I’ve long been interested in facilitating creativity. One of the biggest blocks to being creative is disbelief. People are often so convinced that they’re going to be rubbish, that they won’t even try. They are going to be rubbish. We all start out rubbish, and no one gets to be good at anything, much less brilliant, without going through the being useless at it stage first. If no one shouldered their innate inability and tried to do things anyway, very little would happen. However, being crap is a demoralising business. Airing your ineptitude publically is intimidating, and that too is a barrier to learning and progressing. So, the aim of doing a bad poetry workshop is in part to give permission to be useless. Here is a space in which, the more awful you are, the better. You cannot possibly fail. All that remains is exactly how awfully funny your dreadful poetry turns out to be.

There’s safety in comedy. When the aim is to make people laugh at you, then whatever it takes you there is going to do it. I’m confident enough that I can give enough pointers that everyone involved has a shot at eliciting a giggle or two.

By going through and picking out lots of different ways to deliberately make poetry awful, we’ll also be doing a thing. Anyone who comes along will at least end up with plenty of features to avoid, which also gives them a better shot at writing some good poetry, if they get the urge. It’s not easy teaching people how to be good poets, but by teaching how to be dreadful, I can at the same time teach how not to be dreadful.

The first airing of my Bad Poetry workshop will be at Steampunk Doncaster next Sunday (16th June). It’s something I’m very happy to roll out other places, too. Playful, inclusive, entertaining, participatory, I think bad poetry workshops and bad poetry slams have a great deal of potential. If you fancy a bit of this kind of silliness at an event, do let me know. If I can get to you and fit it all in, then I will.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “The joys of bad poetry

  • angharadlois

    Brilliant! I look forward to a bad poetry slam near me one day soon 🙂
    While following the PD course this time last year, I tried my hand at writing sonnets and realised the only way I would ever get round to practising the form would be to write BAD sonnets – taking my inspiration from Henry Read’s ‘Dull Sonnet’ (which is, incidentally, brilliant).

  • RodeoBucket

    I wish I were there! I’d love to attend. My husband and I used to take our daughter to poetry slams in coffee shops,near colleges and it was great fun. Random people were handed judging paddles and anyone was welcomed to sign up to slam, three rounds. One night, our daughter a young teen, scribbled out three poems on the fly (really bad poems) but she had the burning desire to get up there and belt her heart out to the crowd and I burst with inner pride and jealousy all at the same time that she was so BRAVE. She didn’t care she didn’t win and the crowd was warm to her. She was the youngest up there on that evening.

    So, this particular post, it is really ringing bells in my ears. I truly believe what you are saying is absolutely true and necessary. She joined theater class in school the next year and drama club. Before that, she was much too shy to even consider performing. There was something about the ‘slam’ atmosphere and acceptance of whatever was coming forth from the poet’s hearts, the comedy, especially, that pulled her from her seat on a lark!

    Yay! for your workshop and the ‘Joys of bad poetry!’

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    LOL! Let’s hear it for the bravery of Bad Poetry! Which is actually quite fun! And speaking of the dreaded sonnets, lol when challenged, I couldna think of nary a subject, so wrote one about my struggles with it –

    Ode to Elusive Sonnet Language
    (a grasping at grammar & sentence syntax)
    Jen Tavernier

    I find that by osmosis in this read
    my quickened love for words again unfolds:
    yet in specific ‘standings that I seek,
    I wallow, foot a’mire, midst the gold.
    In language from a line, I shift my gears
    the still elusive meaning slightly thick;
    I feign that understanding is like glue!
    to read a sentence thusly, do I stick.

    Each shifting concept; bean-game on a plate,
    misplaced, so language art can riot forth;
    to read it forwards, I must jump behind
    and verily, my brain goes south to north.
    E’en now, perusing simple converse writ –
    no simple read, I must to re-verse it.

    I get into the verse meter mind thing – and am woeful for an hour after, as everything I read does me in, as I keep trying to put it in meter…lol

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