Poetry as a literary form has a bit of a reputation as being a medium through which Victorians declare their undying passion or 2000s emo teens write about how sad they are.
However the masters have channel this wolly art form to the greatest purpose of all: giving their readers some laughs. And in this day and age, I think that we have earned ourselves some funny jokes, so without any further ado, here are 4 funny poetry forms.
As a disclaimer I would not go over the limerick since it is the most popular, and here “we’re not like other poets”.
Made popular by Karai Hachiemon a.k.a. Senryū, from which the form takes its name. The senryū is known as the humorous but more often satirical cousin of the haiku.
Like its relative it follows the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, however they both are more flexible with this rule than scholars want you to think. The senryū’s subject matter is more often concerned with the shortcomings of human nature, than with the beauty of just “nature” like its cousin.
At every command he gives the second lieutenant jumps up
In a sudden shower a woman covers her obi first
Unable to compose a single piece on plum flowers she comes home
She says “sheeee!” to a burglar thinking he’s a rat
-Sakai Sobaijo (translated from Japanese)
To know more about the senryū click here.
Have you ever been bored by a lecture and started writing poetry on the margins of your notebook? This is the origin story for our next form, when a bored Edmund Clerihew Bentley wrote in science class the following stanza:
Sir Humphry Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
As you can see the clerihew is a simple quatrain following the AABB rhyme scheme making fun of whomever’s research your highschool teacher is telling you about, perfect when you’ve to memorize who Robert Augustus Chesebrough was.
To know more about the clerihew click here.
A short witty and pithy saying with a satirical twist at the end, usually in verse. The subject seems to be an objective truth or an opinion in life. It took form as we know it through the Roman poet Martial, and we have to thank 17th century English poets for its growth.
Jane Wilde, an Irish poet, believed that epigrams were much better than argumentative speech, and in my humble opinion this is the tweeting version of The Greats ™.
Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
But you yourself may serve to show it,
That every fool is not a poet.
To know more about the epigram click here.
Saving the best for the last, calaveritas are an integral part of the Day of The Death tradition. Its subject matter is how “La calaca” (because death is a Lady for Mexicans) fails or succeeds in taking people with her.
“La flaca’s” victims can be from loved ones of the author to popular figures to acquaintances to pets. Some authors just choose to write about dead people because of superstition, but in the end what matters is to make fun of Death and the people featured in the poem.
It has a simple rhyme structure of ABAB or AABB, with four-line stanzas, the number of stanzas varies depending on the author. Is supposed to be an accessible form of poetry, and more often than not, schools in México put their students to write one as part of their literature homework in the week before Day of The Death.
Here lies the famous TV chef
who came up with the dish
called “Death by guacamole.”
He finally got his wish!
- Ellen B.
To know more about calaveritas click here.
In conclusion, poetry is a great literary art to talk about the not-happy stuff in life, however if we only use it for that we are missing a good part of what makes poetry great, and that’s the ability to play with language in a fun loosely way.
Next time you feel like writing a poem try exploring with any of these forms or more!
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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