How to Write Bad Poetry (Well)


Harvest Fladd, Staff Writer


Yeah. That’s right. You read the title. My goal today is to make you write like Edgar Allan Poe if he was a sleep deprived 7 year old. So bad that all the geese in your area take a vacation to the Caribbean. So bad, in fact, that the earth stops rotating and there will be NO ONE to hear the atrocities spewing from your lips. Too far? OK. I suppose nothing too bad could happen, but the poetry you make will still be horrible by the end of this, I guarantee it.  


Step one: Pick unconventional subject matter. 

Any poem can be horrid depending on the subject matter. Some of my favorite repulsive poems have usually been about an oddly controversial topic. Some examples of these topics include: The oxford comma, middle seat armrests on airplanes, moving baguettes and even, the social acceptability of miss-matched socks. Another odd subject matter is trying to create a poem subject that no one has written about before. Some more examples would include: a fashionable mosquito, how to kill Kermit the frog and, why Pluto isn’t a planet.  


Step two: Use incoherent language.

You’ll want to cover your English teacher’s ears for this one. The language you’ll want to use in a bad poem should, to put it mildly give your first grade teacher a stroke. You’ll want to use the language of a Victorian dandy mixed with that of a toddler teething on a block. Lines should be intentionally difficult to understand with interjections, changes in subject matter and long useless tangents that don’t actually add any context to the poem. The reader should leave your poem with more confusion than when they started. Not only that, but they should also be extremely frustrated. 


Step three: Use so many clichès the poem feels like a giant stereotype. 

In the ballroom scene, this is what we like to call reading somebody for filth.  Make that French chef angry for no reason, tell your audience that Matthew Morrison as the grinch in NBC’s new musical is a crime against humanity as a whole. Make sure that when you do this you aren’t touching on an offensive or racist stereotype with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole, doing such makes you a horrible person and bigot. That being said as long as there is no underlying offensiveness, make sure to get creative.


Step four: Make sure you hate the poem too.

This is relatively self-explanatory, you’ll want to make sure that your poem is an abomination to your own ears. This step is optional, but please note that this will bring your despicable verse to new heights. A good guideline for this step is if you cringe, it’s finally good enough to be despised. Add all the elements that you’d never want to read in a poem. For example, I like to add a lot of basic, surface level metaphors that anyone could come up with. If even you, the author, hate your poem, that’s when you know you can move forward confidently with a ghastly poem.    


I hope you learned much about how to craft execrable verse, appalling balladry and abhorrent rhyme.  If nothing else, you should have learned that: anyone can write good poetry, but it takes true talent to write intentionally horrible poetry.