Back at you, Dorothy Parker.

February 4, 2017 § 1 Comment

dorothy-parker1-1I had never even heard of a response poem until I went to this year’s great annual gathering of English teachers, the NCTE conference in Atlanta.

It was the final day, participants slumped in their seats and thinking of the trip home, when a high school  poetry troupe burst onto the stage. They were there to talk back to existing poems with poems of their own.

Those conventional, mostly-dead poets wouldn’t know what hit them if they had heard these teens rap back at them with fervor, sass, conviction, and a barrage of words.

We all sat up straight in our seats–this was great!

So what is a response poem? As soon as I got home I asked the great god Google for the details.

And the oracle said, a response poem can answer another poem, or mirror its structure. It can update it. Steal an opening line and go from there—all’s fair as long as the poem responds in some way to the original.

Now that I knew what a response poem was, I had to test drive one. Before taking on something heavy like “Ode on a Grecian Urn”  I pulled up this Dorothy Parker poem:

General Review of the Sex Situation by Dorothy Parker

Woman wants monogamy; Man delights in novelty.

Love is woman’s moon and sun; Man has other forms of fun.

Woman lives but in her lord; Count to ten, and man is bored.

With this the gist and sum of it, What earthly good can come of it?

 

What I wanted to respond to was her irreverent tone, her brevity—her brevity is briefer than mine—but then, she’s Dorothy Parker.

 

General Review of the Financial Situation by Adrian Fogelin

The rich seek shelter, shelter from taxes;

The poor seek shelter in tents by the trackses.

The rich eat fillet that is quite mignon;

Poor eat what they got, ‘less it’s all gone.

Rich folks jet, poor folks walk;

The rich bloviate, the poor just talk.

The offspring of rich go to schools most exclusive;

The kids of the poor go where learnin’s elusive.

Rich just gets richer,  poor gets the crumbs;

Poor strains its back, rich strains its thumbs.

If rich is the camel won’t thread needle’s eye;

Poor’d risk losing heaven to give rich a try.

 

Note: Anyone care to take on “Ode on a Grecian Urn?”

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