It’s funny. I write poetry and I read poetry but my two favourite anthologies are probably more geared to people with verse aversion than those who love it. More to the point, they’re just so damn approachable you almost forget you’re reading poetry.
The first book I want to talk up is Egghead by Bo Burnham.
This was a gift from an ex-student who has been fantastically supportive of my own writing. I remember sitting on the couch reading it the night I got it and cackling away at the hilarity therein – I even took photos of some of my favourite poems and sent them to people. Like this one…
That’s not to say it didn’t have serious content within its pages, it’s just that you had to want to see the seriousness. It’s easy to get caught up in the various swear word, sex imagery and the occasional bum or poo joke. The message behind this one is pretty clear:
But this one requires a little thought or engagement to register that it can be read as a comment on Western civilisation’s obsession with beauty and the detrimental effects it has on the self-esteem of young girls in particular.
Tho whole book is full of this sort of stuff. I messaged the ex-student as soon as I was finished reading but the very next thing I did was hit up Bo’s YouTube channel.
The next poet I found via online videos first and then I bought his book. Harry Baker is a phenomenal talent. Don’t take my word for it – watch this video and then come back. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Go ahead.
“Paper People” was the poem that got me hooked. It’s highly alliterative and uses a number of other sound devices to comment on human nature and society’s ills. It’s a serious poem dressed up in the silliness of a tongue-twister reminiscent of “The Purple People Eater”.
There’s real silliness in The Sunshine Kid too…
What I like most is that Harry sprinkles autobiographical passages between his poems, explaining what he was doing at the time he wrote them or explaining his inspiration. He also introduced me to the idea of a Haiku Deathmatch. I knew of poetry slams (which Harry Baker humorously defines as “a way of tricking people into coming to poetry nights” by putting “an exciting word like slam on the end”) but a Haiku Deathmatch was something I never knew existed.
For me, what makes this collection worthwhile is that it’s full of everyday experiences that are never normally covered in ‘serious’ anthologies (like playing video games).
So, if you like words and you’re looking for something new to read, get your hands on these two books. You won’t regret it.