Poetry, Comedy & The Modern World

Personally, I think it’s sad how many of us emerge from the education system with a highly developed distaste for poetry. Squirming your way around the intricacies of what makes a Shakespearean sonnet different from a Petrarchan is bound to suck any joy from the subject.

To experiment with the idea of making poetry more fun, I created an anthology entitled ‘Poetry, Comedy & The Modern World’ for a recent project on my English Literature degree.

I thought I would share the twelve poems that made their way into the final anthology here on my blog! I hope you enjoy exploring and, hopefully, having a bit of a laugh along the way…

1.Antigone on the Phone by Jennifer Cooke

A sharp satire of modern life that transposes Sophocles’ ancient drama of Antigone into our current smartphone-hooked epoch.

https://www.datableedzine.com/jennifer-cooke-issue-12

2. Monica by Hera Lindsay Bird

A psychological analysis of Monica, a character in the wildly successful FRIENDS sitcom – this offbeat piece made me crack up laughing.

https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/13-05-2016/the-friday-poem-monica-by-hera-lindsay-bird/

3. Vampires Today by Kristen Tracy

In this poem, Tracy gives us a witty portrayal of the Twilight-induced vampire craze that’s still rather too fresh in many of our memories.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/144829/vampires-today

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4. Cats, Now and Forever by Elaine Equi

Equi has written a short, experimental poem which, taking memes as its inspiration, is in the form of a funny photograph and caption.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/57075/cats-now-and-forever

5. Man In Space by Billy Collins

A feminist poem that is so on-point with the irony that it’ll make you wince.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46710/man-in-space

6. I Heart Your Dog’s Head by Erin Belieu

In this poem, Belieu reflects on toxic masculinity with the help of an American football game – and a lapdog.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56286/i-heart-your-dogs-head

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7. Reparations Redefinition: Bond by Marcus Wicker

By juxtaposing comedy with brutal reality, Wicker examines the complex and intersecting issues of race, privilege and fear.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/151147/reparations-redefinition-bond

8. dinosaurs in the hood by Danez Smith

A poem that humorously explores the poor representation of Black people in films. I found a fantastic video of Smith performing this poem on YouTube:

 

9. Little Brown Brother by Nick Carbó

Carbó’s poem also satirically explores the film industry’s failure to deliver full, accurate, three-dimensional representation of BIPOC.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57845/little-brown-brother

10. Running into your ex by the cereal aisle in Tesco by Carly Brown

Just look at the title of this poem, and you’ll know how cringe-inducingly relatable it’s going to be…

(pp. 18-19)

11. TripAdvisor review poem (anonymous)

Another experimental poem, written in the form of a TripAdvisor restaurant review. Intriguing, no?

(p. 18)

12. Lack by Christopher Spaide

IKEA furniture isn’t going to fix your life – we knew that already, but Spaide says it louder, and with lots more wit, for the consumerist people at the back.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/151754/lack

BONUS: Right to Life by Lysandra Furstenberg

And last but not least… I appealed for submissions related to poetry & popular culture on this blog before the theme had to be narrowed down to comedy specifically. The lovely Patricia Furstenberg suggested a poem written by her daughter Lysandra. While it deals with more serious themes than those above, it is powerful and worth sharing:

Right to Life

“Think about it…
How many stories in your LIFETIME have you heard,
About someone who has
Committed suicide,
Held captive,
Tortured,
Killed?

How many stories have you heard?
One, two, five stories?
We all have heard about one or another story that follows along these paths,
But have you heard about someone who was captivated emotionally,
Or worse; spiritually?

How many stories have you heard?

In our generation, we have this bad habit of
Concealing,
Forgetting,
Ignoring,
The pain that digs deep inside us and
Tortures,
Breaks,
Scars,
Our hearts, our minds, our souls.
How many stories have you heard?

Do you remember William, or Casper, even George?
No?
Don’t you remember making fun of
Willie, Casper the friendly ghost and Georgie Porgie?
Well, they certainly remember, if they are even still alive right now.
Oh, and if any of you are reading this right now, congratulations.
I applaud the content that you had, to just simply exist, you deserve it more than anyone else, even the favorite one.

And if any of you bullies have suddenly remembered, don’t worry,
You’re still special.
Everyone is,
Even the quiet girl that you never hear a word out of,
Even the guy who’s always dressed in black
And yes, even the girl who never eats, but is as thin as a golden leaf.

Now, this is no story, it’s all true, even though we all keep
Concealing,
Forgetting,
Ignoring,
The facts, the things that
Tortures,
Breaks,
Scars,
Our hearts, our minds, our souls.

But we are all more than these
Rumors,
Stories,
Lies,
We are all so much more.

Have you ever felt simply…
Alive?
In awe?
Amazed?
Have you ever felt that you were
On the top of the world?
That nothing could bring you down?

Well, if you haven’t,
You deserve it,
You deserve to live your life of freedom,
You deserve to follow YOUR dreams, YOUR wishes, YOUR heart.

You deserve to be that person that is
Happy,
Content,
Confident,
Alive,
Because that, my friends, is TRULY living.”

Lysandra’s poem received the 2017 Renee Duke Youth Award sponsored by Poets for Human Rights and was included on the Poets for Human Rights subscription list. It is also included in her debut poetry collection which you can buy here:

https://getbook.at/RightLife


Do you have recommendations for funny poetry to share with me? Who are your favourite contemporary poets? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Poetry, Comedy & The Modern World

  1. Precious, Florence 🙂
    Thank you for placing poetry under a cheery spot of light 🙂 I think we need it today, more than ever, as well as students nee more happy poems in their schoolbooks (and here I speak from a parent’s experience).

    Congratulations on your ‘Poetry, Comedy & The Modern World’ project. I will go now and read the entries you chose.

    And 🙂 I am so proud that you kept and mentioned Lysandra’s poem 🙂 My heart is as full as a peach tree in spring 🙂

    Pat xx

    Liked by 2 people

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