Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Writing Advice From 17-Year-Old Me

Imagine, if you will, a young woman sitting in an English classroom. The lesson is one she's heard before, so she isn't taking notes. Unfortunately, her teacher dislikes when students don't take notes, so the young woman has to find something to do with her pen and lined paper. Being of a cynical, sarcastic, slightly angry mindset — she is, after all, seventeen and "learning" things she already knows — the young woman decides to do something she's done before: write satirical verse about English class.

To wit:

A writer to another said:
“Now if you want to get ahead,
Please don't use phrases overdone
Like 'one for all and all for one,'
For if you do (like those before)
Your readers will begin to snore.
Nobody is ‘strong as an ox'
Nor are they ‘clever as a fox.'
And ‘guilty cats have et canaries'?
Now, that's a tale best left for fairies!
The list goes on (what can I say!)
‘If I should die another day!'
‘I love thee how… oh, let me count!'
(Oh, many tales I could recount!)
Poor Hamlet's quest ‘to be or not?'
Good gracious me, the rest's forgot!
'Divines forgive what mortals err'
(Pope tossed that off without a care).
'The springing of eternal hope'
(Oh please, no more, I cannot cope!)
Dies famous in the eyes of all
With one last, tragic curtain call.
‘A poem as lovely as a tree'
Shall never, ever come from thee;
If you but choose to echo all.
From your high perch you then shall fall.
So from clichés you must desist
Although it's hard to them resist!”

Admittedly, this is not my best work. It's a little convoluted in terms of sentence structure and I had to do some strange things to word order to get the rhymes to fall just so. However, I'm proud of the rhyme and meter because, if I wrote this the way I usually write comic poetry, this was done on the fly, barely paying attention to syllables and the aabb rhyme scheme. (Also, given the correlation between my other teenage poems and the classes I wrote them in, I'm betting we were learning about clichés that day.)

I'd completely forgotten about this poem until today.

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