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The Best of the Worst: The Philolexian Society’s Bad Poetry Contest

Alfred Joyce Kilmer Bad Poetry Contest Winners (from left to right: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, 5 dishonorable mentions)

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.

I should rewind a bit. After all, what exactly is a Bad Poetry Contest? How does one go about judging such an event? While I still cannot answer the second question, I think the first is best answered with a line from one of last night’s pieces: “I hope you enjoyed hearing this poem because you can’t un-hear it.” For one night, in the confines of a Havemeyer lecture hall, bad poetry became an art form. This was not your simple “cat-sat-bat” bad poetry, not your “roses are red” bad poetry. No, these poets did something much more impressive; they were good at being so outrageously bad. After all, I think we can all agree that it takes considerable talent to recite a poem entitled “Back that Ass Up Into My Heart” with a straight face.

The night continued with enough terrible verse to last a lifetime, even including a poem in sign language about umbrellas and improv that turned out to be surprisingly raunchy. At the contest’s end, however, Stephen Blair walked away with first prize for his poem, “#Atwitter,” a play on Edgar Allen Poe’s “the Raven” featuring a man whose Twitter has been spammed. With first and second honorable mentions were, respectively, Maria Lomaka’s “Around the World in Eighty Delegates” and Eli Grober’s “There’s a Guy Behind You and He’s Going to Shoot You, Here Let Me Warn You with a Poem.”

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9 Comments

  • Philo says:

    @Philo a drinking society with a literary problem.

    also i love you all.

  • t.d. hand says:

    @t.d. hand though these poems awful be,
    it does not strike me as such dreck
    to hear the world’s worst poetry
    as read one single word from Spec

    1. The Dark Herman says:

      @The Dark Herman damn! my comment’s line-breaks lost.

      i thought (at least, like, for a sec)

      perhaps i could ignore the cost

      of my white whale (yea, it’s Spec)

      1. The Dark Hand says:

        @The Dark Hand ok fuck you bwog

  • Late Entry says:

    @Late Entry Have you ever seen labia like pterodactyl midflight?
    At the end of a long, Jack Daniel’s soaked night?
    You curled up with a lady whose face was so fair,
    You’d never expect what she hid under there.
    You slid under her skirt, and there, to your shock,
    Was a sight quite appalling to your poor, desperate cock.
    Not soft like a peach, but winged like a bat;
    With a beak, and a face like a naked mole rat.
    You leapt to your feet with a bang and a clatter.
    She sat up, and asked you what was the matter.
    Try as you might, you just couldn’t find words
    To express the labia you would have preferred.
    You just stumbled out silent, into the night,
    Hoping to never again see pterodactyl midlight.

    1. Formatting damnit says:

      @Formatting damnit Have you ever seen labia like pterodactyl midflight?

      At the end of a long, Jack Daniel’s soaked night?

      You curled up with a lady whose face was so fair,

      You’d never expect what she hid under there.

      You slid under her skirt, and there, to your shock,

      Was a sight quite appalling to your poor, desperate cock.

      Not soft like a peach, but winged like a bat;

      With a beak, and a face like a naked mole rat.

      You leapt to your feet with a bang and a clatter.

      She sat up, and asked you what was the matter.

      Try as you might, you just couldn’t find words

      To express the labia you would have preferred.

      You just stumbled out silent, into the night,

      Hoping to never again see pterodactyl midlight.

  • That Ass says:

    @That Ass Honestly, the fact that Back That Ass Up Into My Heart did not win is a tragedy.

  • request to the bad poets says:

    @request to the bad poets could you please post your poetry here?

  • anon says:

    @anon this was absolutely execrable verse

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