Fan favorite Margot Livesey returns to the History of Literature to discuss her new novel, The Boy in the Field, and to help Jacke choose the greatest writers in Scotland’s history.
MARGOT LIVESEY is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Flight of Gemma Hardy, The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, and the Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and is a professor of fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
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Everyone loves and admires a good poem…but what about the bad ones? After discussing his own experience writing terrible poetry, Jacke analyzes the 10 things that make a poem go wrong, assesses the curious role of Scotland and Michigan in developing bad poetry, and reviews some candidates for the worst poet in history, including:
- Jennifer Aniston, whose astonishingly bad love poem to John Mayer graced (disgraced?) the pages of Star magazine;
- James McIntyre, the Canadian poet known as “the Chaucer of Cheese”;
- Julia A. Moore, the “Sweet Singer of Michigan,” whose poems were described as “worse than a Gatling gun” and “rare food for the lunatic,” but who insisted on giving public performances (to her husband’s mortification and Mark Twain’s delight);
- Margaret Cavendish, the seventeenth-century aristocrat whose nature poems took her into the unintentionally comic realm of extreme bad taste (and near cannibalism);
…and many others as well. It’s a celebration of bad poetry… the agony and the ecstasy… the cringeworthy and the triumphant… or, as William McGonagall, one of the best (worst?) of the bad poets might say: “This episode is very fine / Indeed I think it very fine.”
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“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).