Monday, September 27, 2010

POEMS OR POMES?

The following gem appeared in my email inbox recently, sent by a fluffy old bat called Agatha. (It’s alright, she’s a sort of friend of a friend, and she can look after herself.)

If writers of internet blogs
Would keep those blogs updated
Their loyal reading public
Might not feel so frustrated
Or provoked to silly banter
Like this one.
(Signed) A. Ranter

I laughed, and was going to scrunch it up, virtually speaking. But a fan letter – or a fan poem – is not to be sneezed at. (Random thought: why should anyone sneeze at anything?) People sometimes leave comments on blogs, but to go to the trouble of composing a poem is to go the extra mile.

But is it a poem or a pome? Poems come in all grades, from lyric to doggerel, verse or worse. Pomes are something else. The word was coined by accident, a typo during the process of editing a manuscript, but soon came to be applied to a poem that is not quite right, when it is over-written or sentimental, when it stutters or strikes the wrong note, or simply doesn’t measure up. Pomes are pretentious, coy or clichéd. They make you wrinkle the brow, click the tongue.

Poems can only be pomes if they are trying to be poems (are you getting confused?). Agatha’s, of course, was not trying to do any such thing. It was just a bit of fun.

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