The Putrid Poetry Party staff and faculty pose in funny fashion as they hand out shirts to every student who presented (Colin Reef/Lariat)
The Saddleback College English department welcomed all English majors, undeclared majors, and bookworms alike to their second annual Putrid Poetry Party.
Faculty and staff read the unintentional but hilarious poetry of William McGonagall, along with a few hidden gems from the internet, and even a few poems written by one of the professors. The goal was to educate students and staff on poetry and how even the most putrid of poems have meaning and value.
The first poem was read by English composition instructor Shellie Ochi, from a poetry collection called “Teen Angst: A Celebration of Really Bad Poetry” which focuses on melodramatic break-ups. The poem itself is called “Broken, Love, Misery” by Gabriella Kriss.
The next poem is an untitled sonnet from the same poetry collection.
“Again I fell for it, the same old dating routine. I saw you, I loved it, until I saw the real thing,” Ochi said. “You acted like you were the “stuff” and tried to push me away. I rejected that attitude and came closer trying to stay.”
This line as well as others, show a naivety for emotion and poetry, as if it was written as an improvisation. The teen angst characterized in these lines show a loose grasp on poetry and leaves us confused on what’s actually being discussed.
The next speaker to present their poems was Suki Fisher, an English instructor at Saddleback. The poems she presented were from “A Night Without Armor” by Jewel Kilcher, an American singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist, producer, actress, author, and poet.
“It’s very frustrating when you find out someone who writes as well as she does grosses 10 million dollars on their book of poetry.” Fisher said.
The third speaker of the night is Saddleback English instructor Bridget Hoida. Her first poem was absolutely hilarious. The title of the poem is “The Murder of Two Men by a Young Man Wearing Lemon Yellow Gloves” was written by Kenneth Patchen an American beat poet and novelist. He experimented with different forms of writing and incorporated painting, drawing, and jazz music into his works.
“I went through a really big phase of being in love with beat poetry,” Hoida said. “I would take two different public buses and sometimes the ferry to get to San Francisco from Sonoma State University reading all kinds of beat literature. I studied all the great poets like Kerouac and Ginsberg but tonight I thought I would share some of the lesser known beat poets.”
The fourth speaker of the evening was dean of Liberal Arts Kevin O’Connor. He chose to read a poem about food titled “Ode to the Mammoth Cheese” by James McIntyre. McIntyre was uninhibited by minor shortcomings—such as his lack of literary skills. The Toronto Globe ran his pieces as comic relief, and the New York Tribune expressed amusement, but their mockery did not dampen his enthusiasm. He is assumed to have continued writing until his death, in 1906.
“These poems share a common theme of being extremely bad poetry, from a professional standpoint to a general one. It’s not meant to demean any of these poems but rather reflect a sense of comedy and humor poetry can bring,” Ochi said.