Monday, July 30, 2007

Second verse, worse than the first

People for centuries have wondered who the best poet ever was. Some cite William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, even though there is still plenty of doubt over his actual identity. Others cite Emily Dickinson, who scribbled out her verse while, according to many accounts, laboring against mental illness. But Scotland has long known their best poet, Mr. Robert Burns.

Well, if the Scottish get their way, they may be home to the worst poet in history, as well. William McGonagall, who had to carry an umbrella during his life to protect him from thrown fruit and the like, has a group of stalwart fans, trying to get him enshrined in the Writers Museum of Edinburgh. The fans claim that he is "accessible - the people's poet", while detractors point out his simplistic rhyme and labored meter. McGonagall himself believed that he was second only to the great Shakespeare, which indicates that maybe he didn't start carrying the umbrella soon enough.

This type of venture is actually quite refreshing. The man has already been proclaimed the "world's worst" by his own publishing house, and, if he can gain that honor, he might be able to open the door for other "world's worsts". For example, Ed Wood might finally get the notoriety he so richly deserves as the World's Worst Director (although Uwe Boll is closing that gap quickly). Kevin Federline could be nominated for both World's Worst Singer and World's Worst Parent (admittedly, the last one would be a tie with his ex-wife).

However, as far as World's Worst Poet really goes, while we can see the merit in naming McGonagall as the apex of badness, we still find it easier to read his works than Robert Frost's. The road less travelled, indeed.

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