the tenth asinine poetry contest:
Into each genre some parody must fall. Just ask Bakhtin. Poetry seems to be particularly suspectible to the slings and arrows of outrageous ridicule. If imitation is flattery, then parody is . . . something else. To quote that unassailable paragon of accuracy, Wikipedia, a parody is ''a work that imitates another work in order to ridicule, ironically comment on, or poke some affectionate fun at the work itself, the subject of the work, the author or fictional voice of the parody, or another subject.'' Some of the most entertaining poems we publish on Asinine Poetry are parodies of famous poems and poets, especially the works and likes of Shakespeare, both of the Brownings, Dickinson, Wordsworth, Williams, Frost, Bukowski, Plath, Millay, Ashbery, et. al. We also publish a lot of satire as well as pastiche, both of which are similar but not strictly the same as parody. But with our asinine parody contest, we didn't want to come up with concrete definitions for entrants to follow. We just wanted the contestants to have fun poking fun, spoofing, and/or lampooning, whichever they preferred. You will see as we discuss the finalists here that our entrants must have had to struggle about the best course to do that. Would they stick closely to the original text, making fun of the poet or the content? Or would they mutate the original, incorporating only a vague notion of it in order to do something completely different?
The entry fee per poem was one buck (sent cleverly hidden in an envelope, as we don't take checks). Limit: three entries per poet. The deadline was December 1, 2006.
Once the poems arrived, the editors here whittled the pile of more than 100 entries down to the best 10. And then we called upon the good nature of three friends of the site and asked them to be judges: Daniel Thomas Moran, the poet laureate of Suffolk County, New York, author most recently of From HiLo to Willow Pond (Street Press), and a frequent contributor to the site; Hal Sirowitz, former poet laureate of Queens, New York, author most recently of Father Said (Soft Skull Press), and a frequent contributor to the site; and Frank Wilson, Book Review Editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer and a great and prodigous blogger.
And after struggling with these poems for weeks, the judges turned into their scores and we'll tell you what they said right after this commercial break . . .
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The runners up are:
10. "Fox News Stops by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Poetry Hound.
Judge Moran notes, ''I like this one very much as well but not as consistently strong as some of the others.'' Judge Sirowitz notes, ''Lots of potential but jumps around too much. Not enough distance from homophobia.''
9. "Desk-Fever" by Robert Dunn.
Says Judge Sirowitz, ''A desk doesn't compare to the sea--the weakness of the poem is one-dimensionality of the subject.'' Says Judge Moran, ''This is well done but just doesn¡¯t tickle my parts as much as some others.''
8. "Much More than CVI: The Wasting Time on the Computer Sonnet" by R.J. Clarken.
Says Judge Sirowitz, ''Too much explaining--author should w describe computer addiction and not just state it.'' And Judge Moran notes, ''Really good but not quite asinine enough.''
7. "The Village Crapsmith" by Gerald George.
Judge Sirowitz says, ''Too self-conscious--too much time spent on Indian phrases.'' Although Judge Moran calls it ''excellent all around.''
6. "The Lane Not Taken" by James L. Hale.
Says Judge Moran, ''This one is also very good but not as good as [some others.]'' Judge Sirowitz notes, ''Funny and makes you think. I like how he gives a gracious nod to Robert Frost before bashing the original.''
5. "O Pumpkin! My Pumpkin!" by Tom Pamperin.
Judge Moran notes: ''Great amount of effort. Great parody. A tiny bit shy of the asinine maximum.'' Judge Sirowitz: ''Too long. Poet needed to incorporate another vegetable, like a sweet potato.'' While Judge Wilson notes: ''It's spot on, it may even be better than the original.''
4. "Innisfree (The ''I Ain't Yo' Fuckin' Butler'' Remix)" by Greg Hill.
Says Judge Moran, ''This one is completely asinine and might become an asinine standard.'' Meanwhile, Judge Sirowitz calls it ''a bad rap and by bad I don't mean good but okay.'' And Judge Wilson says, ''Very funny, though it deviates a little too much from the original--but then I guess it has to.''
And now for the top three prize-winning poems--right after this commercial break . . . Never mind.
Here they are:
3. "The Tenant" by Steven McDougal, Winner Third Prize, $20.
Judge Moran calls this ''another great effort.'' Judge Sirowitz hailed it as ''funny and serious at the same time. The choral part anchors the poem--but . . . this author did not know when to stop.''
2. "Trees" by Greg Schwartz, Winner Second Prize, $35.
Judge Wilson declares this ''a very good parody.'' Judge Moran notes, ''This one is simple but it is the whole package. You have to love a confessed tree humper.''But do you? Judge Sirowitz says, ''To the point, but line about convenient hole rubbed me wrong--too close to being misogynistic.''
1. "The Essential Choice" by William V. Brust, Winner First Prize, $50.
Says Judge Moran: ''This one took a lot of effort. It is well done, a very good parody and asinine to the max.'' Judge Sirowitz: ''Good energy--author knows the poem is absurd but keeps making it absurder.'' And Judge Wilson, ''Pretty funny, and rather an ingenious parody. And impressively sustained, I might add.''
Thanks profusely to our judges and to everyone who entered for playing.