Last night was a good night to be bad at poetry. Columbia’s best bad poets shined up their shoes (*not really), did their hair (*ish), and broke out their tuxes (*in one case, yes) for terrible poetry’s biggest night of the year: the Philolexian Society’s 27th annual Alfred Joyce Kilmer Bad Poetry Contest. Bwog’s expert on rhythm and rhyme, Claire Friedman, attended.
As I sat in Havemeyer 309, peeling off multiple coats and cursing the weather gods, I felt that I had stumbled into the world’s strangest, quirkiest family reunion. People were shouting, singing, hugging, calling to their peacock-feather-adorned friends to sign them up to read next, all over the steady sound of last minute entries being scratched into journals. Over the course of the night, I came to two conclusions. The first is that bad poetry takes talent, timing, and an exaggerated sense of rhyme. The second is that I will never be as gutsy as the poets who stood up to read their terrible masterpieces. Although the crowd was receptive and friendly, I discovered that bad poetry readings are like stand-up comedy acts; they’re all or nothing. While I find this concept terrifying, I am so glad that the poets who read last night gave it everything.