9 Signs Your Poem Isn't Working on #BadPoetryDay

by Tori Telfer
Matt King/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Breaking news, everyone. The hashtag #badpoetryday is currently trending on Twitter, and this is important because it means the world is finally paying attention to poets, and a world that pays attention to poets is a world that hasn't completely deteriorated into apocalyptic horror just yet. No one seems to know why this holiday exists — I blame Hallmark — but it does, so I'm celebrating.

Writing a good poem is extremely hard. Amirite, poets? Poets? Ugh, they're all busy revising. Anyway, to write a good poem, you've got to keep meter, rhyme, white space, line breaks, and comma placement in mind, all while balancing imagery, synecdoche, metonymy, and constantly reminding yourself of the difference between a metaphor and a simile.

Writing a bad poem? Now that's easy. All you have to do is grab a few rhyming words — say, "bustle" and "mussel" — and fling them onto a blank page before rearranging words around them as casually as if you're tossing julienned basil onto an omelet. Watch and learn:

I'm writing this story for Bustle

without a single mussel

in sight. But that's okay,

because I'll publish today

and eat some mussels at night.

Honestly? I don't even like mussels. But that's the good thing about bad poetry — it doesn't have to be "true," or make sense, or do anything but make you cringe in literary horror.

Wondering if your beloved poem qualifies as Bad? Check it:

1. You're editing too fast

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” —Oscar Wilde

2. You find yourself consistently "re-imagining" the "roses are red" ditty

3. You compared your lover's eyes to "sea glass," "stars," or "the blue of a cornflower"

4. Your poem appears to be sponsored by a large corporation

5. Your poem includes the line "He knew me from Spider-Man"

6. Or else it ends with a moral — a rhyming moral

For the stronger we our houses do build,

The less chance we have of being killed.

—from "The Tay Bridge Disaster" by Sir William Topaz McGonagall

7. You've "meditated" on the sunset for more than two lines

8. If you've chosen "The Sensitive Plant" as a title, like Percy Bysshe Shelley did once, something has gone terribly wrong

But none ever trembled and panted with bliss

In the garden, the field, or the wilderness,

Like a doe in the noontide with love's sweet want,

As the companionless Sensitive Plant.

9. In an attempt to be meta, you accidentally reveal that you know nothing about poetry

Images: Wikimedia Commons, Tumblr (3)