A Compendium of Bad Poetry

Many of us are familiar with the verse of the “Worst Poet Ever”, William McConnigal.

What I am joyously discovering at the moment is that there were a number of other very bad poets, some of whom were arguably worse than our Scottish friend.

For example, the work of James Gordon Coogler.

Coogler was born in South Carolina during the last year of the American Civil War and spent his entire life in that state. After his father’s death in 1880, Coogler went to work to support his mother and two sisters. He opened a shop advertising “Poems Written While You Wait.” Although his verses attracted ridicule, he sought to promote his business by distributing self-published booklets of original poems. According to his obituary in the Columbia State newspaper, Coogler published five thousand short collections of original verse during his lifetime, besides two versions of his book-length collection titled Purely Original Verse.

He seems to have a great, though unexplained, hatred of Lord Byron’s mother as can be seen in this example.

Oh, thou immortal bard!
Men may condemn the song
That issued from thy heart sublime,
Yet alas! its music sweet .
Has left an echo that will sound
Thro’ the lone corridors of Time.

Thou immortal Byron!
Thy inspired genius
Let no man attempt to smother –
May all that was good within thee
Be attributed to Heaven,
All that was evil – to thy mother.


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