The special day of observance was proclaimed, I understand, to make people appreciate good poetry. So, I guess a day of bad poetry is supposed to make us see the light, to see the worth and wonder of really good poetry. For those who don't appreciate good poetry, it can still be a pretty good bad day, an excuse to throw a party, although I've never been to a bad-poetry party.
I have, though, written bad poetry. Why, look, here's one now:
I wrote some poems,
When I was young,
good enough to be sung,
But since that time,
Can't write a rhyme,
Only really bad poems.
I think I did write some good poetry when I was young. I wrote the poems and then printed them neatly on the lined pages of a green, hardback, poetry journal, which was actually a government issue-style log book. The poems were inspired mostly by love. A young woman I knew in Paris read them and said that whomever I was writing about certainly was a lucky girl. Not long after that, I threw away my book of poems. I've always regretted that. My judgment back then was as bad as my poetry is now.
My grandfather was a good poet. I have a very old hardback book of poetry he edited, and it includes some of his own poetry. That small, aged volume from the early 20th century is one of my treasures.
Another little volume on my bookshelves is a book of poetry titled "Through Smoked Glass: Glimpses of a life before, during and after Vietnam," by Ernest W. Richardson. Ernie and I served together in the Marine Corps; so, of course, I like his stuff. And I have a signed copy of "The Story So Far," poetry by David Allen. David was a reporter on Okinawa, writing for Stars and Stripes when I worked in the Pacific Stars and Stripes editorial office in Tokyo. I like David, and I like his poetry.
Two special books of poetry round out my small collection. One is "Poe's Poetical Works," published in 1882 and first copyrighted in 1856. The first page is inscribed: To Kathryn from Anna "A Happy New Year" 1899. Kathryn was my grandmother. The other one of her poetry books that I inherited is "Longfellow's Poems;" the first couple of pages are missing, but I'm sure it was printed during the same time period as "Poe's."
Poetry was one of the special joys shared by my grandparents on my father's side of the family. I never knew them, because they lived a very long time ago. But I'm sure they're looking down from heaven, and my grandmother is saying, "George, that lad cannot write a single verse of decent poetry, even if he tries ever so hard from now until he joins us up here." And my grandfather is saying, "Yes, Kathryn, I'm afraid that is so."
That sad assessment is probably correct. However, I'm not bad at throwing a party, so
stop by our house next Saturday for my Week After National Bad Poetry Day barbecue, beer and wine tasting. It will be a BYOBP affair – that's bring your own bad poetry.