Honestly y’all, I was getting afraid that NO ONE was going to submit for the $500 H. O. Prize for Humorous and Original Slam Poetry! Don’t poets want money? I wondered. Don’t nobody like things that are fun? Is poetry going to be sad and only one thing forever? AND IF SO HOW WILL I LIVE?

But thank fucking God, there were a couple submissions in the ol’ H. O. Tanager gmail account today.

We’ve got to get 20 submissions (or more) before we vote on the prize — remember, if we get enough by September 15, the prize will be awarded from those submissions, and if we don’t then the submissions will continue through IWPS in October. If you competed with a funny or form-breaking poem at the National Poetry Slam in Denver, please submit it!

Today, I am both pleased and immensely existentially relieved to share our first entry by John Pinkham from this year’s Slam Free Or Die team, from a preliminary bout at the National Poetry Slam held in the Mercury Cafe.

I was fortunate enough to see John perform three different times this Nationals, and every one was a pleasure. His combination of devastating specificity, juxtaposition, self-effacing stance, and ability to deeply ground his humor in his true sense of himself in the world, all add up to an amazing talent. 

This poem, “Love Letter While Bipolar,” is a wonderful example of John’s work and the twists and turns his writing can take. Watch on!

As we think about funny poems in slam, this is a great example of a funny poem with a turn (dents and damage being mistaken for love) that makes a comeback at the end:

  • — Straight funny until 2:17.
  • — Turn to the serious at 2:17 — completely related to imagery of poem, thank you!
  • — At 2:44, an abrupt and hilarious return to the original love letter form…
  • — … followed by an immediate return to the serious.
  • — Then at 2:55, the closing line that welds the two narratives (car crash / conflating pain with love) with perfection, by seamlessly uniting both narratives by their cost, “everything I have.”

It’s fucking masterful work, and really applies to the H. O. Prize as both humorous and original, in that it plays with the form of the love poem and tweaks so many of the conceits that give love poems their structure and cadence.

Thank you John, for your poem and for submitting it for the Prize!

If you enjoy funny poems and poems that break slam poetry norms, please like us on Facebook and share these posts and the word that we want more submissions for this prize! We think funny and weird poems are important. Stick around if you do too.

#soblessed

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H. O. Tanager
H. O. Tanager is the author of Autograph Penis: An Adventure Through Competitive Performance Art and Haiku Princess: Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity. You can also find beautiful Haiku Princess prints and more at RedBubble.
H. O. Tanager is the author of Autograph Penis: An Adventure Through Competitive Performance Art and Haiku Princess: Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity. You can also find beautiful Haiku Princess prints and more at RedBubble.