A celebration of bad poetry in Michigan
May 21, 1997
Web posted at: 12:01 p.m. EDT (0401 GMT)
(CNN) -- Carrying paper crammed with crooked prose
With rhyme as painful as broken toes
Proffering style so awful, your ears you will close
Gaggles of parody-packed poets are convergin'
On the public library of Flint, Michigan.
The Flint Public Library is celebrating the best of the worst of American poetry this week. On Wednesday, it hosts its annual Julia A. Moore Poetry Festival, dedicated to the memory of the Michigan native who was, as organizers put it, "one of America's most unusual and misunderstood poets."
Moore, born in 1847, was known as a horrible writer -- maudlin and awkward -- whose poems and ballads were so bad they were hilarious. Her first book of poetry was published in 1876 and became a hit, precisely because it was terrible.
The heart of the festival is the Julia A. Moore Poetry Contest. The library invites punsters, poets and parody-mongers to submit spoofs of Moore's style. A composition entitled "The Unfortunate Quine Family" won last year. It began:
Pray, good people, hear me tell
A story which I know too well.
About a family name of Quine
Which dwelt up north in Engadine.
A Christian clan, and proud yet meek.
Their seven children died last week.
The first flew Monday, June the two.
His skin was mottled, tongue turned blue.
They thought it was the flue at first.
But typhus made Jeb's bowel burst.
-- "THE UNFORTUNATE QUINE FAMILY"
by Paul A. Stermer
The winners' poems will be read at the library on Wednesday. For more information, visit the library's Web site (see "Related sites" below).
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