Yesterday I was informed that today, August 18, is a holiday - Bad Poetry Reading Day. This puzzles me for a number of reasons.
1. I and, I assume, most relatively rational people do our best to avoid bad poetry. I mean really, bad prose is - well, bad enough. But let's be honest: bad poetry is way badder than bad prose. Why on Earth would anyone intentionally put his or herself through the kind of pain and suffering that truly bad poetry is capable of inflicting?
2. There is way too much good stuff out there to read. No matter how many books I manage to read in my lifetime, there will be thousands - if not millions - of good ones that I'll be leaving unread when I die, and quality reading time is hard to come by. Why waste the time that could be used to read something good on something you know from the get-go will be ranked among the sludge of literary craft?
3. Is this some kind of attempt to make the writers of said 'Bad Poetry' feel better? Because as a writer I can assure you that, as nice as the idea of having a holiday dedicated to the celebration of the kind of work I do is, if that holiday is called 'Bad Poetry Reading Day', I'm not going to feel better.
I have, however, managed to come up with one possible explanation/practical application for this holiday. My theory is that BPRD was invented by poets, for poets - for their own benefit and encouragement, no doubt. You see, poets (being a moody and emotionally unstable lot, generally speaking : P ) often struggle with feelings of depression over what they believe to be the inferior quality of whatever it is they happen to be working on at the moment. In an attempt to console themselves, they often turn back to samples of their work from earlier days, read it, and then assure themselves that whatever it is they're working on can't be as horrible as what they wrote that one time years ago. (It's amazing what a little strategic encouragement can do for a poet's psyche.)
No doubt, as word spread through the poetic community that reading one's own work from years back does wonders to ease depression, it was eventually decided that an entire day should be set aside for the practice. Thus, today's holiday was born. This must be how it happened. And, if you look at it correctly, it can also be used by writers to keep themselves humble. Trust me, there are few things as humbling as going back and reading that one thing that you were convinced was going to be a bestseller... so maybe this holiday isn't such a bad idea after all.
Alas, most of my earliest work has long since been lost to the ravages of life in a house with three siblings and multiple pets, and the time-space continuum warp that exists within the recesses of my closet. So in many ways, I am crippled to observe the holiday with complete propriety and due ceremony.
On the other hand, I do seem to recall a bit of my first poem - one that started with the lines "I have a simple plea / It says 'Oh woe is me!'" - and of course then there was the one that started off: "I am a mound on the ground, a caterpillar small..."
You know, maybe the ravages of a time-space continuum warp aren't all that tragic after all. They might have even saved me from a bout of retrospective depression and endless hours of questioning whether I really could have written something that terrible without aid from some outside source...
What do you think about Bad Poetry Reading Day?