Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be part of Tasha Harrison’s blog tour for Clementine Florentine, with a guest post from the author about why she thinks funny poetry is essential; a sentiment I couldn’t agree with more. Onto the post!
My middle grade comedy, Clementine Florentine, is about ten-year-old budding poet, Clementine, who loses her confidence when the new kid in school, Callum, wins the poetry competition and makes fun of her poem. And then, to make matters worse, Clem’s dad starts dating Callum’s mum…
I had a feeling, as I was writing Clementine Florentine – which has a lot of poems in it – that if it ever got published, people might ask me questions about poetry and then I’d look a bit silly because it’s not a subject I know much about.
I haven’t studied poetry. I don’t even read poetry that often. Occasionally I’ll read a beautiful, eloquent poem and think… Er, so are they saying this? Or are they saying that? I often feel like I don’t get it, and that makes me wonder if maybe poetry isn’t for me? I read somewhere once that when art takes itself too seriously, it can become inaccessible. That resonated with me.
But I love funny poems. Ever since I first read Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, I’ve only really had eyes for humorous poetry. That you could retell an entire fairytale in verse form and make it funny was a revelation to my 11-year-old self. Of course, there are hundreds of younger children’s books written in humorous verse, so why do funny poems seem to drop off the radar as kids progress through secondary school, only to be replaced by more serious poetry? Funny how it’s around this age that so many kids lose their love of reading…
I can’t help feeling that society doesn’t place enough value on humorous poetry. Why should the only poems that are upheld as important be ones that are serious in tone? Why aren’t there more humorous poems being taught at secondary school? Is it because they don’t “count”? This is the feeling that Clementine gets when the poem she’d written about custard creams ranks nowhere in the school poetry competition, and Callum’s more serious poem wins first place.
But what Clem eventually learns from her new neighbour, ageing punk legend Lyn Ferno, is that humorous poems are just as important as more serious ones. As Lyn tells her, “Imagine a world without things that make you laugh – no funny TV shows, no funny books and no funny poems. It would be a pretty depressing place. Laughter keeps us sane.’
Perhaps if we want to keep kids feeling passionate about poetry and literature all the way into adulthood, we should place more importance on humour and let some fun back in.
Thank you so much for reading! What sort of poems do you enjoy most? Are you planning to read Clementine Florentine, or have you already? I’d love to hear in the comments!