Once more, I am selecting a set of poems to read at an upcoming event. once more, the organiser wants to know in advance what to expect. Once more, I am dithering over making a decision.
When I was first invited to read, I leapt at the chance and didn’t give a moment’s thought to whether I would find something suitable. But there is a theme: the pieces should be humorous. And humour is a very subjective matter.
So I’ve been leafing through papers and notebooks, scrolling through documents, and re-visiting lots of old poems to see what I can find. Although very little of it is laugh-out-loud funny, the more I look, the more pieces I find that might be suitable.
One of the very first monetary prizes I won for creative writing was for a limerick, although, since it was written for a competition and intended for publication, it was nowhere near as bawdy as it could have been:
I’d intended a three-part bestseller
’bout my lover – a hunk of a fella.
But he left on page two,
Now what can I do?
Turn it into a tragic novella!
At least that has the advantage of being brief: not only must the pieces be humorous, the readers mustn’t over-run their allocated time.
The flowers in today’s photos – both taken this morning – have been urging me to find some really purple prose to read, but I can’t be sure of the audience and they might not understand that it was tongue in cheek. Still, it’s reminded me of a poem that mentions such things, which some people might consider funny.
So that’s yet another piece to add to the possibilities: it seems the longer I think about it, the more difficult the decision becomes.
There’s a new stall at the market, it’s really quite exciting,
they’ve got everything that’s needed for every type of writing:
there’s prose in all the colours, not just the standard purple,
and poets’ squares and triangles as well as writers’ circles.
Their sonnets and their villanelles are wrapped up in black lace,
the epics are kept out the back – there’s simply not the space.
They told me that their shanties are brought daily from the coast,
they’ve got commas, dashes, colons – choose the ones that you like most –
they’re laid out with the platitudes on cunning ice-lined trays,
with nonce-words and ephemera and esoteric plays.
When you buy two triplets, you get the third one free,
and they’ll do a deal exchanging metaphors for similes.
They sell rhythm by the foot there, and scansion by the metre,
as for presentation guidelines, you’ll never have seen neater.
There’s clichés by the dozen, they’ve got bucketfuls of screamers,
the doggerel’s in couplets and the consciousness on streamers.
If you’re bored with your perspective and you think you ought to change it,
have a word with the consultant: I’m sure he can arrange it.
They show you all the products (they never simply tell)
– the gothic horror section is like a trip to hell!
They’ve got some local colour and some novel twisting tales
and advice about deep breathing for when inspiration fails.
They sell the thread for plot-lines in various metric weights
as well as yarns and anecdotes at reasonable rates.
If you ask for something that they haven’t got in stock
they’ll hack some new ideas from off the writers’ block.
I went there just the other day, I needed a fresh voice,
and now I don’t know what to do: I’m simply spoiled for choice!