The Tragic Tale of an Amateur Poet

There once was a girl from Kentucky
Whose poetry was really sucky
No words were spelt right
The structure was shite
And the worst thing was it didn’t even rhyme

During the course of this story it will become clear that I have no life. It will also become clear that I am far too polite in the presence of people I dislike, and far too cruel once they’ve gone and left me alone. Nonetheless, I present to you this story as a warning, a parable if you will. I call it –

The Tragic Tale of an Amateur Poet;
and the horrible snob with too much time on his hands.

Sometime last year I had the misfortune of befriending a stranger on MSN messenger. I can no longer recall how she found me (“I don’t know how but they’ve found me!”), but rest assured our association was a brief and irritating one. She was American teenager, and described herself as emo. For the purposes of storytelling she will be assigned a name, and for the purposes of anonymity it will be a false one. I feel that Emma would be an appropriate moniker, being as similiar to the word emo as a female name can be.

I’m sure we’ve all met them at some point in our lives. The MSN pest who assigns emoticons to singular letters, thus peppering their messages with spangly pictures in the middle of words. Someone who feels punctuation is unnecessary, believing their meaning to be accurately conveyed without such inconveniences as question marks, apostrophes and commas. Someone who readily identifies with a specific and rigidly-defined subculture, finding no shame in declaring “im emo”. Maybe you took pity on them, attempting to hold a rational conversation with them instead of merely saying goodbye, blocking them from your buddy list and never bothering to think about them again. Maybe you are wiser, and kinder than I am.

One day, Emma mysteriously began a conversation with me. “hi how are you”. The sentence lacked punctuation but the words clearly formed a question, so I could decifer its meaning without confusion. However, there was something else that bothered me, something beyond the lack of regard for English language. The word “hi” had been replaced with an emoticon, displaying the word “hi” in large sparkling red letters. I responded that I was fine, and asked her the same question. The reply was a simple “OK”. Or rather, it would have been a simple “OK” had it not been replaced by an oversized green sparkling “OK” with a Playboy Bunny-shaped hole in the O. It was at this point that I should have run for the hills, or maybe hired a contract killer, but foolishly I stayed the course. A brief, strained conversation followed. At one point, she seemed to insult me, saying “you emo”. Naturally I leapt to my defense, saying I’ve never enjoyed that style of music, and telling her that my glasses are a necessity and not an empty fashion statement. “no”, she reponded, “im emo are you”.

Further conversations followed in the next few days, generally starting with a sparkling “hi” and finishing with a green Playboy Bunny “OK”. This Emma character seemed quite the enigma, at turns being talkative and then intensely private and quiet. The quiet stages were easy enough, myself having little to do but tell her how I was before she had disappeared back whence she came. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the horrors of her more talkative periods. One such period came later that day, when she decided to start a conversation with “if i told you i love you would you believe me”.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t believe her. I certainly didn’t want to believe her. She barely knew me, we had very little in common and I hadn’t been anything beyond polite to her. Above all else, I hated the idea of someone using a sparkling red “LOVE” with a Playboy Bunny O to declare their feelings to me, especially without the appropriate question mark. Naturally I didn’t share all of this with Emma, since I was still sticking to the lowest levels of politeness with her. “Well, you hardly know me…” would have to suffice. This was clearly not firm enough for her, as she began to ask me what type of girl I liked, telling me once again that she was “emo”. She also told me she wrote poetry, deciding to share some with me.

Unfortunately I neglected to save the conversation, so Emma’s poetry is forever lost in the dark recesses of my memory. I can assure you that it was truly diabolical, like a five year old aping Sylvia Plath. No, worse than that. A four year old. Maybe four and a half. Anyway, it would be fair to assume that a proud poet would agonise over each stanza, each line, each word, each syllable. A lot of poetry may not be quite as painstakingly considered as English teachers would have us believe, but there is a certain level of skill in really good verse. Emma’s work was poorly-constructed mindless whinging about boys. One line in the first poem spoke of “longing for your kiss”, but I was only able to translate this after working out what word could possibly be represented by an emoticon of a floppy-haired boy with the letter X blinking over his face. Without so much as an acknowledgement from me, she proceeded to share a second poem, this one co-written by her best friend.

They say too many cooks spoil the broth. They also say two’s company, so you would think that help from a friend would result in a marginally better poem, perhaps one that gave some heed to conventional spelling, grammar and poetic structure. In reality, a meeting of these two minds resulted in an even more flagrant disregard for art and language. This collaborative work had no discernible poetic form, presenting itself as a single unpunctuated paragraph riddled with spelling errors. It was unclear which of the girls had nominated herself as the narrator, or whether the character in the poem was an amalgam of the two personified as one. Whichever of these possibilities was true, the thought of some wonderful boy upset this creature so greatly that she could “feel tears comeing to [her] eyes”. Tears were “comeing” to my eyes too, such was the frustration of wasting my time on such twaddle. Regardless, I was filled with a morbid curiosity, like witnessing a bloody skateboarding accident or watching the auditions on X Factor. I couldn’t take it any more, I just had to discover what drove her. I asked her who her favourite poets were, thinking it might help me comprehend, and she did indeed make more sense with her reply than she had with any other single sentence in our entire correspondence.

“i dont read poetry”

3 Responses to “The Tragic Tale of an Amateur Poet”

  1. Haha … “comeing” … Brilliant.

    I terminated my dalliance with MSN messenger many years ago, on similar grounds to the above.

    Isn’t there something like the fascination with which one might ogle a corpse in one’s failure immediately to block such attempts at correspondence?

  2. This was hilarious, I was literally laughing out loud! Well, we’ve all come across such Emmas at some point of our lives, and hope as we might that we never may be so unfortunate as to do so again, the internet sure does a fine job of conveying that this species is indeed not a rare one.

    Your style of writing and the depiction of ‘Emma’ brought to my mind (vividly) the picture of Madeline Basset, one of Wodehouse’s more memorable characters…the odd sentimentality and a knack for uttering those sort of ‘poetic’, exaggerated (and unintentionally comical) remarks ( every time a fairy cries, a wee star is born in the milky way ).

    On a serious note though, I’m really quite alarmed at the ease and readiness at which folks take the liberty of slaughtering language. The whole of ’emo’ culture needs to be done away with immediately. One hears the phrases ‘my life sucks’ or ‘nobody loves me’ being thrown around at alarming frequencies.

    People live up to the ’emo’ stereotype and automatically become poets…Shakespeare must be rolling in his grave.

    Anyway, let me thank you for the hilarious read. =]

  3. Carolina Maine Says:


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