We've all seen some shady advertisements in the past. From 7 foot Submarines that end up being a giant cardboard box when they arrive, to X-Ray Specs that do little more than make multi-colored prism effects around everything you look at, there's no end of folks trying to scam innocent joes out of their hard earned cash.
One of my all time favorites is The International Library of Poetry. Though not a scam per se, since there's no true fraud taking place. It's one of the more brilliant, yet legitimate, ways to suck money out of the must gullible sector of America...vain poets.
I saw their ad in a magazine back in 1992 and couldn't resist. I submitted an awful poem I hacked out in a few seconds that you can see below:
Turning knuckles to salsa
Fists cry blood on hopscotch chalk
Not exactly Walt Whitman, or even Slim Whitman for that matter. It's the type of poetry you'd expect a semi-retarded gang banger to write. Anyway...within weeks I was sent some mail letting me know that I was in the running to receive the $10,000 prize. Could it be that this literary masterpiece would help me buy a new car?
Soon I was told my poem was selected to be in a hardcover book that I could buy for just $40.00. And to make things even more ridiculous, a follow up junk mail let me know that their editor read my poem and thought it would be wonderful set to music. Can't you just imagine that lousy masterpiece set to classical music.
Obviously I didn't buy the book, but I often wondered how many people they suckered in to do it. I mean if MY poem was in it, it had to be a crappier collection of poetry than that one Jewel wrote.
8 years later I came across their ad again, and found that they're still going strong, so clearly many folks have been keeping the money flowing to The International Library of Poetry.
Enough money to secure the poetry.com domain name, that's for sure. And when I checked out their site, I found you can now use the wonders of modern technology and submit your entries right through the web.
I wondered if I just got lucky before, back in 1992. Even though I wrote that one in a hurry as a joke, it's entirely possible someone at the ILOP really thought it was good. I definitely had to put it to the test. I had to try and write one of the lamest poems the world has ever seen.
And what better way than to write a Transformers Love Poem...
As you can see, there's N'SYNC lyrics that are better than this. And with some Mister T and GI JOE references peppered in there for good measure, it had to be clear that STARSCREAM was a complete and utter piece of shit.
Imagine my surprise when I was told just weeks later that "your poem was selected for publication because of its unique perspective and your artistic vision."
Artistic Vision? I had a line that said, "Cobra la la la" for Christ's sake.
And get this closing comment in the letter:
Wow, if only a fraction are chosen to be published, can you just imagine the dreck they refused to print? (Those are probably sent to Alanis Morisette to choose from for her new album).
I'm sure I'll get more information shortly telling me I've been chosen to be in the book, and heaven forbid...have the poem set to music. Though I have to admit the thought of hearing Starscream set to music is an intriguing one.
So clearly they'll take any piece of garbage poem, even if it's about Transformers, and put it in their book. But let's put it to the real test. I encourage everyone to visit Poetry.com, and whip out an instant classic.
But don't try real hard. Just throw some goofy Gary Coleman references in, perhaps the theme song to The Facts of Life, or other mind bending lines, and see what happens. Send me the links when you're done, and I'll publish the best (Ha! Who am I kidding, they're all gonna suck) ones here.
In the meantime, have fun playing the POETRY IN MOTION version of Starscream, courtesy of the fine folks of the ILOP.