My plan was simple: entice people into my home, then strew poetry books around and begin reading aloud. Keep reading until someone else started reading. (Thanks to reader W for this suggestion.)
The plan worked better than I expected. It turned out we (“we” meaning my husband, CJ) had half a dozen poetry books – The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Seven Centuries of Poetry in English, etc. I of course contributed my part: Now We Are Six, by A. A. Milne. (I have a feeling there’s some kind of conclusion to draw here, but can’t for the life of me think what it is.)
We began with Dorothy Parker:
Into love, and out again,
Thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen —
Well and bitterly I know
All the songs were ever sung,
All the words were ever said;
Could it be, when I was young,
Some one dropped me on my head?
We dived into Lewis Carroll, Chauncer, Robin Hobb, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Colerige (still don’t know how to spell his name), Tennyson, and Dylan Thomas.
We also spent a few moments with William McGonagall, who is well-known as the world’s worst poet. He used to walk into pubs and start saying his poetry, then get a variety of objects thrown at him. Then he’d go and write poems about getting a variety of objects (wet wash cloths, peas, etc) thrown at him.
Here’s a mercifully brief sample:
ALAS! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast.
And here for your delectation is the A.B. “Banjo” Parterson piece, “Been There Before” as read by my partner, CJ: