There’s something about autumn that tends to bring out the serious, even melancholic, in many of us, or even the spooky as we just experienced with Toni’s Poetics prompt. Have you noticed? I find myself writing about death, endings, loss—all of which tie into what we see in nature—the trees surrendering their leaves to the chill of incipient winter. And so my inner therapist tells me it’s time to lighten up. Let’s bring some humor to the pub.
It’s not as easy it might seem. Funny poetry can easily devolve into the insipid, into poetry that lacks substance. So, what tools can a poet turn to that creates both substance and humor? Here are just a few:
Irony: Irony is the difference between what is said or done and what is actually meant.
Example: At a ceremony celebrating the rehabilitation of seals after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, at an average cost of $80,000 per seal, two seals were released back into the wild only to be eaten within a minute by a killer whale. (Sorry, that’s not funny, is it?)
Sarcasm: another popular form of irony where the user intends to wittily attack or make a derogatory statement about something or someone. Often, sarcasm is confused with irony instead of being a recognized form of irony.
Example: At a party a lady tells Winston Churchill he is drunk to which Churchill said “My dear, you are ugly…but tomorrow I shall be sober.”
Parody: The poet uses parody when he or she takes an existing work and exaggerates it to produce a comic effect. Humor is achieved by over-stressing or imitating noticeable features as an artist would use caricatures.
Example: You no doubt recognize this one from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 13:
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks…”
Subject: The poet chooses a topic from his own experience, a gaff, a humorous event, an embarrassing moment and develops it into a poetic form.
Language: Some words are just inherently funny. I ran across the word “farkleberry” in the dictionary a while back and just had to write it into a poem.
Here it is:
Very Little Gravitas Indeed
Fiddlehead ferns and farkleberries,
frolicking fun in dictionaries.
Farcical foodie festivity,
flagrantly fragrant felicity.
Rutabagas, rotund, rakish,
rollicking words like razorfish,
ravishing romance, ranuculi—
learn what they mean, or how to lie.
Artichokes, albacore, aperitifs.
Anisette, aubergine, tomato aspic,
Apple pan dowdy, ambrosia divine,
chill out and enjoy with a glass of fine wine.
If you’re a word addict such as I
finding new words gives you such a high.
Webster invites you to grab his book.
Find something new—don’t be a schnook!
Now, let’s have some fun on this October day—here’s the process:
• Write your poem;
• Post it on your blog or website;
• Click on Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and enter you name and the direct URL of your post.
• Come to the pub and visit other poets’ work. Take time to comment and while you’re at it, order up your favorite wine, or brew.
• Have fun. LET’S LAUGH!
For dVerse Meeting the Bar, this is Victoria, happy to be tending today.