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Old 07-30-2017, 10:24 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Default Light Verse and Taste

Do you tend to like your own light verse better than that of others?

I do, and I don't think it's because I write (or--given my current output--wrote) it better than others do, but because, beyond the surface technical facility, the value of light verse (usually its humor) is, more than that of other poetry, a matter of taste. Since we tend (yes?) to write to our own taste, I assume most light versers similarly prefer their own.

[I should maybe clarify that I don't mean I would fill an anthology of light verse with my own stuff but that, for instance, in most issues of Light Quarterly I didn't find many poems I liked as well as my own contributions. The same is far from true regarding other sorts of poems.]

I'm prompted now to ask by Jayne's question in Drills and Amusements: Do you like Clerihews? For me, Clerihews, maybe because most of them require less technical facility than other light verse forms, exaggerate the effect. My own Clerihews tickle me, some greatly; those of others tend to bore me. There are exceptions, of course. Because I'd hate to be misunderstood, I'll repeat myself: this doesn't lead me to believe that I write better Clerihews than others do, only that mine are better tailored to my own taste in humor.

Do you other light versers similarly prefer your own poems?

Last edited by Max Goodman; 07-30-2017 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:29 AM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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Location: Saint Paul, MN
Posts: 9,494

I may be exceptional, but for me the answer is no. I struggle with light verse; I attempt funny and end up dark. So I'm happy to read other people's! Good on all of ya. If I weren't about to run out the door, I'd grab my R.P. Lister now, or my Updike collected.

Editing back to make it clearer that I really am answering Simon's question as asked: No, I don't find it true that my own light verse is better tailored to my own taste. It may be that I have less evidence to go on because I only write light once in a while.

Last edited by Maryann Corbett; 07-30-2017 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 07-31-2017, 02:14 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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I don't have a consistent response to my own poems. Sometimes I look at them and marvel at my genius, but on another occasion I may read the same poem and be shocked at how utterly lame it is.
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Old 07-31-2017, 03:49 PM
Edmund Conti Edmund Conti is offline
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Location: Summit NJ USA
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Well, I can't believe I am not the Light Poet Laureate of anywhere, but, yes, I mostly prefer my own light verse. Now you've got me thinking whose other light verse I like. But we better not get into that

OK, Richard Armour.
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Old 07-31-2017, 04:29 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Location: Middle England
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I write more light verse than any other kind of poetry and if I'm starting a poem from scratch, as it were, then yes, I pander to my own taste in humour, but many D & A competitions involve trying to think up a funny premise that may not be on my radar at all! That makes things more difficult . . .

. . . and that's when I'm far more impressed with the work of Brian Allgar, Basil Ransome-Davis, Bill Greenwell, Melissa Balmain, Roger Slater, Ed Conti, Rob Stuart, to name but a few, . . . than I am with my own!

(Oh, and that Max Goodman bloke as well )

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Old 07-31-2017, 05:01 PM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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I always like the work of Wendy Cope, X.J. Kennedy, Melissa Balmain & a few others better than mine.
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:08 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is online now
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA
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I probably write more light verse than anything else - or lightish verse, to be more correct - but many of my poems can't decide which they are, and I often tend to combine both approaches in the same poem, so that neither I nor the listener/reader knows exactly what I'm after. (A little like I am in person, I suspect.)

As a pure lighter-than-air verse writer I don't regard myself as consistently, or even inconsistently, good Instead, I try to find a voice which mixes humor and drama and seriosity and sarcasm and a dozen other attitudes, and sometimes it's funnier than others, and when it works I can usually tell it, and when it doesn't work I can depend on people like you to tell me so.

In other words - like much of life - it depends.
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Old 07-31-2017, 09:19 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Location: Beaumont, TX
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I second Mike Juster's choices. I do think that light verse needs to be formally tighter than other types. One misplaced syllable can ruin a limerick.

Max Goodman
Gets in a good mood, man,
When he rehearses
His own verses.
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:32 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,139

Thanks to all who've chimed in--and all who still will. I'm delighted that so many of my own favorite light versers are sharing their thoughts about this!
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:30 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,109

There are lots of writers of light verse whose works I go back to over and over because I find it so delightful. I re-read Dorothy Parker, Wendy Cope, Gail White, Julie Kane, Melissa Balmain, Sophie Hannah, J. V. Cunningham, W. S. Gilbert, Ed Shacklee, and quite a few others. On the other hand, there are many different kinds of light verse, and I am not equally amused by all of them. My own tastes lean toward the witty and satirical, so that kind of verse is the kind I read most often. I will admit that I don't like equally everything the above-mentioned writers have written, but the things I like most I tend to like more than my own work, so I go back to them to remind myself of what the best light verse looks like and just to give myself a laugh. Light verse is a form of self-medication. It always makes me feel better afterwards.

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