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Tag Archive | literary criticism

A poem starring forced alliteration, excessive prepositions, and Super Smash Brothers: Melee

I don’t know what exactly our teacher could have possibly said to inspire me to write this poem. Seriously, here is what must have happened that day:

Teacher: Okay class, you all have to write a poem today, the subject of which must be something you are passionate about.
Me: Does that include video games?
Teacher: Why yes, Cody, it certainly does! And be sure to include at least one writing technique, such as alliteration, in the poem.
Me: How about I include alliteration, but instead of giving it any context whatsoever, I just write a bunch of words in a row that start with the same letter but lack any coherent or logical flow?
Teacher: That sounds splendid! Please also do that with a part of speech as well, such as prepositions or linking verbs.
Me: I will do so happily, and then gallivant into the sunset!
Teacher: You didn’t even use that word correctly, but who cares? Go write your terrible poem!

That basically is what must have happened, because Science®. Anyway, here’s the result of this conversation:

A poem featuring forced alliteration, excessive prepositions, and Super Smash Brothers: Melee

A poem featuring forced alliteration, excessive prepositions, and Super Smash Brothers: Melee

Transcript:

Characters all around
25 all around,
Colorful characters quite abound
Every few and every pair
Have some sort of reason to be fighting there
Cartoonish they seem, yet I don’t quite care
It keeps things clean—for the Kids.
Contacts cascading, namecalling renaming
The therapeutic Theremin of Thespian thinking
A thing-in-itself
Which no-one seems to be seeing
Smelling the sweat, the substance of strife
Illiterate critics, illegitimate gimmicks,
Sucking the life out of
Into out of around near far abound
Train of thought
Derailed to hell
Away from the housetop,
Away from the roof
Now dash away, dash away…
Dash away all.

Ten years after writing this poem, I can explain almost every thought that went through my head. I have no specific recollection of writing it, but here’s how each part of this happened:

  1. I started writing about Smash Brothers. “25 characters” are in Smash Brothers: Melee, and the violence in the game is irrefutably “cartoonish” to maintain a K-A rating (Kids to Adult), which is the video game equivalent of being rated PG.
  2. I must have heard the word “theremin” somewhere and couldn’t think of anything else to write in Line 9, so I just grabbed a Thesaurus (or used any “th” words I could recall) and stuck them together incoherently, very likely thinking “I can get away with anything, it’s poetry” at the time.
  3. Line 13, “Illiterate critics, illegitimate gimmicks” undoubtedly refers to video game critics who invent facts to further their own political agendas (i.e. Jack Thompson, who at the time was sadly receiving media coverage) as I start to “zoom out” from Smash Brothers itself and start to examine the overall perception of it, and gaming.
  4. After writing Line 14, “Sucking the life out of,” I couldn’t think of what to write, so I just wrote a chain of prepositions, which were HUGE in the Latin class I was also taking at the time. I directly admit this in Line 16 when I say “Train of thought,” and concede that I couldn’t think of a coherent follow-up in Line 17: “Derailed to hell.”
  5. Lines 18 through the end are self-explanatory.

Is it frightening that I can deconstruct my own ten-year-old poem as specifically as I did? Honestly, you tell me. I like to think that some things never change, and that I don’t think that’s a bad thing. My writing was also pretty transparent, at least at the time, and at least to me.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this completely ridiculous poem! Looking ahead, it appears that I won’t have a great deal of notes/poems/stories for the next 10 days, but please stay tuned and there will be plenty more for you to analyze, criticize, or ignore soon!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

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My education: a little background

Before I get too far into my 10-Year Idea Reunion, I’d like to provide a little background on my education. Despite my self-referential, tongue-in-cheek, smartass poetry and stories, I did in fact receive a quite advanced education leading up to the creative writing class I took my senior year of high school.

In addition to having read The Iliad, The Odyssey, most of Plato’s The Republic, and several other scholarly works by my sophomore year of high school, we delved into advanced literary criticism at the beginning of my senior year of A.P. English Literature. Here is one particular excerpt from my notes from my first semester of my senior year that stood out to me:

Be sure to pay attention to the "Good day in Dimmesdale's life" section

Be sure to pay attention to the “Good day in Dimmesdale’s life” section

Highlights (Italics added):

  • Chillingworth starts to talk about sex, beats himself into an orgasm
  • Both Chillingworth and Dimmesdale exist in an S&M relationship
  • Beat yourself to get released from the beating

Frankly, I remember virtually nothing from A Scarlet Letter (who does?!), but it certainly was important that we talked in class about people beating themselves into an orgasm. Was that seriously part of the book? I somehow doubt it, but we sure interpreted it that way!

My classmates and I were handling very adult material by the time we were 15 (I took these particular notes when I was 17), so it’s not like the nonsensical scribbling in my idea notebook are indicative of my educational background; on the contrary, they are indicative of someone who had chosen to neglect to utilize that educational background, instead focusing on the pursuit of irreverence and… wow, this sentence has a lot of vocabulary words in it, maybe I should just keep extending it in an attempt to exacerbate the illusion of SHOOT I CAN’T THINK OF ANY MORE BIG WORDS, IT APPEARS THAT ALL GOOD THINGS MUST INDEED COME TO AN END.

**UPDATE: In an extremely bizarre turn of events, it was just brought to my attention that The Onion posted a satirical piece about The Scarlet Letter only two days ago. I guess great minds think alike! And so, apparently, do The Onion and I.


This blog entry is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

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