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Poster poems: parody


Parodies range from the sweetly celebratory to the viciously unforgiving. So sharpen your quills – it’s time to deliver poetic justice

One of the marks of the serious poet is that they develop a unique, instantly recognisable style of their own, a trademark voice that means regular readers of verse can tell their Shakespeare from their Milton, their Browning from their Dickinson, at a glance. The flip side of this is that the more distinctive a style is, the easier it is to send up. Indeed, many of our most original poets have found themselves the subject of numerous parodists, whose work can range from gentle, affectionate ribbing to witty but well-placed literary stilettos.

Joan Murray’s We Old Dudes is on the gentle end of the spectrum. Her Republican-voting, golf-playing pensioners are a fine balance to Gwendolyn Brooks’ seven pool-playing juvenile delinquents in the poem that inspired Murray’s parody, a poem that could, itself, be read as a gentle poke in the ribs of the Beats. As is the case with many such send-ups, Murray is also making a serious point: everyone has a story and everyone ends up in the grave.

After reading the take-off of Hiawatha, it’s hard to read the original without smiling

There is an air of portentousness about TS Eliot’s writing that is catnip to the eager imitator

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