09 August 2005

The Fun Is In The Flavour

      I was glancing again tonight at Chad Walsh's Doors Into Poetry, a now 43 year-old handbook for students learning to read poetry.   The book, I'm sure, is long out-of-print, but it's really quite a neat-- and useful-- little guide, and certainly more effective in what it does than many more recent texts are in attempting to accomplish roughly the same ends.   It has both good sense and good humour, and it's worth picking up in a used bookstore if it can be found.   One of the book's minor delights is that it begins with this piece, a commercial poem that's remarkably good for what it is. Check it out:

   ... No toys!
            ... No noise!

Mothers of America rejoice!
Wheat Chex is guaranteed to
contain no premiums--- no whis-
tles, missiles, rockets or ruckus.

No beanies, b-b's, heebies or
jeebies.   Not a ball, bat, hat or
gat in any package of this
crunchable, munchable whole-
wheat cereal.

Wheat Chex is made so the
fun is in the flavour--- the only
cereal made on purpose for
Grownups and Above-Average
Children.   You get taste instead
of toys, and nutrition instead of

We take pride in proving this is
one cereal worth buying for its
own fine self--- with no strings,
rings or things attached.
The rhythms, the language, the chuckle-worthy alliterations, they all work tiny little wonders, all-considered.   It's almost as if Marianne Moore attempted Dr. Seuss, or Dr. Seuss attempted Marianne Moore, with a dash of Skelton in the mix.   (A very small dash.)   And it works, almost too well, given one's expectations of commercial poetry.   It would work, too, as a genuinely harmless way of reintroducing undergraduates, jaded by their high school experiences, to poetry's pleasures, as well as its tricks and techniques.   Cute, very cute.

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