Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Light Verse in an Earnest Age

In an appreciation of Don Marquis, Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence asks:
Do people still read Marquis? My sense is that the American humorists of the 20th century, the ones I grew up reading – Marquis, Thurber, Benchley, Perelman, Ogden Nash -- have evaporated from respectable consciousness. As writers they were funny, not portentous or subversive (though humor, to those with an ear for it, is always subversive), so they are of little interest to an earnest age.
Thanks to a recommendation by Gail Hapke at Scribal Terror, I've recently become acquainted with the light verse of a 21st century American humorist, Scott Emmons.

Emmons has a Ph.D. in Classics, and his light verse has much to interest students of Greek and Latin literature. His FLAK: An Ongoing Rant takes its motto from Juvenal's "Difficile est saturam non scribere" ("It's difficult not to write satire") and contains these lines:
When psychopaths, losers, and substance-abusers
Get famous by schmoozing with Springer,
When the infamous Jacko insists he's not wacko,
When Britney can pass for a singer,
When Enron execs get phenomenal checks
While the grunts get a song and a dance,
When bin Laden has flown, when Raelians clone,
It's impossible NOT to write rants!!!
In his Myth-Demeanors: Twisted Tales of Ancient Greece, Emmons refashions Greek myths, including Pandora's box:
Out flew every foul affliction:
War and famine, drug addiction,
Not to mention static cling
and weak domestic beers,
Paper cuts and pigeon droppings,
"Fun and different" pizza toppings,
Ragweed pollen, freezer burn,
and songs by Britney Spears.
But you don't need any detailed familiarity with the Greek and Latin classics (or the songs of Britney Spears) to appreciate the work of Scott Emmons. He also writes on topics of abiding interest to all, such as love and sex. If you need an occasional refuge from this earnest age, I recommend the light verse of Scott Emmons.

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