Friday, August 17, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: Did I Miss Anything?

There isn’t much in the way of humorous poetry for adults as there is for children. I guess…maybe…adults don’t like or appreciate funny poems the way kids do. I noticed that no one responded to my posting of an excerpt from Maurice Sagoff’s comic take on Beowulf last Friday.

Don’t most people enjoy a good laugh? I love a good satire. I love irony. I really like the way Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert use humor to expose the phoniness, machinations, and stupidity of politicians and public figures. For my money, The Daily Show and Colbert Report often give us “news” that is often more truthful than the “real” news programs.

I’ve chosen to post Did I Miss Anything? today because I think Tom Wayman uses irony to make his point. I think it would be a great poem to share with high school or college students at the beginning of a semester. What do you think?

From Did I Miss Anything?
by Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth

40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course

has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

You can read the rest of the poem here at Poetry 180.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have a review of Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems by Kristine O'Connell George.


John Mutford said...

I do like this one. I agree that most adult poetry tends to be on the gloomier or at least more serious side. I wouldn't take the lack of responses to the Maurice Sagoff poem as proof that adults don't appreciate humorous poems. I just think adult tastes are more diverse than children. You mentioned The Daily Show and also gave a poem rich with irony. I'm sure plenty of adults out there wouldn't find that sort of humour funny at all- opting perhaps for fart jokes and slapstick. I posted about Margaret Atwood's "You Fit Into Me" poem a while back. I know a lot of people find that piece witty, perhaps funny. I don't. I find Al Purdy and Charles Bukowski funny, but I know some people despise them. I hope you get a lot of other responses on this post suggesting funny poems. I do agree that there's a shortage. It would be nice to see a list of recommendations.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I like much of Charles Bukowski's poetry. I've never heard of Al Purdy. I wish we had an Ogden Nash of the 21th century.

Some years ago there was a journal of light verse that was published quarterly. I don't know if it's still in existence.

Billy Collins has written some poems that bring a smile to my face--"Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House" and "The Rival Poet" are two that come to mind.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think this one is hilarious. Excellent choice. And somehow I missed your post last week - I'm off to check that out right now.

Kelly said...

Hi Elaine:

I've been having trouble commenting on blogger blogs (too bad as I have one) when I'm on Internet Explorer. Is anyone else having this problem? I have to use Firefox. And, 'cause I usually have my writing groups g-mail open on Firefox, I have to log out and in to comment as blog self to use Firefox.

Oh well...let me just say, I love this poem. And, I think I WILL print it out for my first-year students this year. (I have a first-year tutorial this Fall.) I think there's not a question teachers and professors hate more than "Did I Miss Anything?"

I love "Did I

Elaine Magliaro said...


I don't have Firefox on the laptop I've been using since the crash of my hard drive. I still haven't gotten it back.

Several months ago I had problems posting comments--but not recently.

Kelly & Eisha,

I love this poem, too! It is hilarious--and a great way to get the point across to students that attending class IS important!!!

Anonymous said...