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DIY Poetry Publishing Cooperative

August 11, 2006

Villanelles Are Retarded: new from Big Game Books!

What's that sound? That mad buzz, that rapid-fire stapling, that whistling needle, that flashing X-acto? Was it wearing a hand-printed tee shirt? A straw cowboy hat? You, my friend, have just been buzz-dived by a red-headed poetical blur known as Maureen Thorson, speedy creator of chapbooks, tinysides, stuffed animals, bookmarks, Clip-Art collages, drunken sailor poems, & repeated collaborative sillinesses. Hurry, hit the PayPal button. She's fast!

Thorson recently combined forces with the infamous Texan poet Shafer Hall in an exercise of formal ridiculousness. It's called Villanelles Are Retarded, and it's now available from Big Game Books for $6.00, including US shipping.

I got my copy yesterday, packed in a protective sleeve with a sobering (but not too sobering) warning label. I carefully slid the little book from its wrapping and turned to the informative (if somewhat retarded) introduction by one Jennifer El Knox:
"The villanelle was invented by retard François Villon in France in the early 1400s, as period now known as 'L'Age d'Or des Crétins.' It is assumed he derived the form from a peasant dance performed on the first day of April in which the stupidest child in the village would jump back and forth over a rope on the ground until he or she passed out. The priest would then scrawl RETARD across the unconscious child's head with a Sharpie."

El Knox's introduction further claims that Thorson, who works in a law office by day, "is paid peanuts to read enormous three-ringed binders overflowing with documents that are so mind-bogglingly boring they have been known to throw lawyers twice her size into Rip Van Winkle comas," and Thorson's accomplice Shafer Hall (who for reason or reasons unknown habitually lies "under a pile of 2-liter Mountain Dew bottles on the floor of his dark, fecund apartment" in Brooklyn) collaboratively created the villanelles included herein line by line over the communication technology known as e-mail. "Now that's retarded," Knox concludes. Well, we'll just see about that, I'll admit I scoffed.

But, Reader, no sooner did I turn to the first poem than I too became convinced. Witness "You're Bored, We're Hot":
Summer on the Swanee. It's a hundred degrees
And confusing for all of the whiskey and blonde chicks.
At this lowly meridian, we space out under the trees.

I'll spend most of my time down beneath my knees,
Looking for bottles to pass all this time in the sticks.
Summer on the Swanee. It's a hundred degrees

And I'd rather be naked as hell but for all the fleas,
Singing love songs to the forest's myriad ticks,
To whose lowly harmony we space out under the trees.

If you're as hot as I am, you're sweating seas,
And a little distraction is what our situation predicts.
Summer on the Swanee. It's a hundred degrees

Above zero; insects hum a humid reprise
And I am willing, as always, to take multiple licks,
A lowly harmony spacing out under the trees

As some equatorial virus turns us dead over easy.
We'll go out in style--tragically beautiful, completely transfixed
As we space out harmoniously under the trees:
Summer on the Swanee, one hundred degrees.

I mean, really! Who else but poets as retarded as the retarded form they repeatedly torture nearly two dozen times would rhyme degrees and reprise, or allow ticks to follow so soon on the tiny heels of fleas? In a stupor that can only be described as retarded, I made my way through the subsequent pieces, each more blatantly absurd than the last--"Disturbing Ringtones," "Telescopes, 80% Off," "Betsy Pickle," "Want to Get Huge?" and "Visit New Jersey," among others equally dull-witted. Some of these poems were almost definitely written under the influence of retardation. In the end, I put down the little book with a relieved sigh. Thank goodness most poetry is not like this! How lucky we are that these retarded poets with their retarded obsession are only two of a kind!

Get yours here. (& I mean it, you better act quick.)

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  • I liked that poem because it was sort of amusing in a Dr. Seuss kind of way. But I see your point. There must be drugs involved.

    By Blogger C..., at 4:56 PM  

  • hee, my review is so retarded i guess it's not clear that my final sentiment is sincere. the book is fun.

    By Blogger shanna, at 5:42 PM  

  • Well, the people at the State Hospital do keep me and Shafer "tamped down" with something or other. All I know is I get real excited, start talking about the voices and the plans and the world domination and whatnot, and then they come along with the needles, and then I sleep for like a whole day!

    By Blogger Reen, at 7:23 PM  

  • World domination?? Do you know Pinky and the Brain too?

    By Blogger C..., at 8:56 PM  

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