Pegasus Descending: A Book of the Best Bad Verse

compiled by James E. Camp

It could've been worse!

September 2000

Oscar Wilde was right in that bad art is sincere. And the poems in this book are sincerely bad. Much of it is bad in a high-school-lit-mag kind of bad; I've edited a high school lit mag. It can get much worse than this.

However, I cannot give it a full five stars, because it overlooks some truly execrable work from hideous poets. I mean, William McGonagall, worst of bad Scottish poets (Robbie Burns can erase only so much of that stain), wrote the immortal lines:

And when Life's prospects may at times appear dreary to ye,
Remember Alois Senefelder, the discoverer of lithography.

The examples of his poetry in here are actually =better= than many I've seen elsewhere. His poem on allowing women the vote was something to be seen to be believed. So I think they could've picked poems even more amusing than the ones in there. The same goes for Julia Moore.

Also, I felt that some of the poetry picked was not truly horrible. There should be no question of the badness of the poetry, but some of the poems I came away thinking "I've seen much worse", or lines were taken out of context.

However, most of the poetry is extremely bad and extremely funny. It should be given to any aspiring poet as a warning. This book was published in 1971, and I believe the last 30 years has generated plenty of very sincere, very bad poetry which should be enough to fill another volume. Anyone care to edit a new book?

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Mary Pat Campbell, last updated 11 June 2001