Friday, August 28, 2015

Poetry Friday: Calef Brown's Crazy and Brilliant Wordplay

I have only two things to say about Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything

1. Calef Brown is a genius with wordplay, in the tradition of Lewis Carroll. 
2. If you've liked Brown's previous books, you'll love this one:
(138 pages of nonsense!)

Here are three samples:


Giant prehistoric critters
once used volcanic craters
to cook gigantic fritters
and titanic taters.
This was disrupted
by massive eruptions,
resulting in fossilized critter matter
embedded in petrified fritter batter.



I handed Sir Parrot 
a packet of suet. 
He started to chew it
but just couldn't do it. 
Instead of the suet, 
I gave him some millet. 
He shuffled his feet 
and proceeded to spill it. 
Instead of the millet, 
I offered a pellet. 
He narrowed his eyes 
and would not even smell it. 
"This food," said Sir Parrot, 
"if that's what you call it,
is very unpleasant,
so open your wallet
and kindly provide me 
with ten dollars cash.
I'm off to the village
for bangers and mash." 


And here is my personal favorite
(a little ditty, pure nonsense, untitled, written in the margins of the book): 

Those that are gnome-schooled
are required to recite the Pledge of Wee-Gents,
sometimes at huge events.


What's not to love about a mind that can come up with
"the Pledge of Wee-Gents" when writing a poem about gnomes? 

The Poetry Friday round-up is hosted this week by the wonderful Sylvia Vardell, recently returned from her trip to South Africa. Head over to her blog, Poetry for Children, to see what other people have posted. 


  1. I love that last one, too, Julie. Clever and succinct.

  2. Ah, you pulled me in with Calef Brown, Julie! Love his crazy humor. My favorite lines are "resulting in fossilized critter matter/
    embedded in petrified fritter batter."

  3. Yes, so very clever! Love the Pledge of Wee-Gents! :)

  4. Delightful! I don't usually like rhyme, but I find myself sucked in with these!

  5. Oh I love this cleverness--I'm a big fan of Calef Brown, and looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for introducing it!

  6. Hi, Julie, thanks a bunch for participating in our Poetry Friday fun today and for your look at Calef's new book-- here and in your excellent review!

  7. I've never read anything by Calef Brown so thank you so much for this, Julie! His poetry reminds me of J. Patrick Lewis's - just pure riot and nonsense! =)

  8. Thanks for sharing these. I agree - the last one is best, though I loved them all

  9. I didn't love this book...maybe I need to go back and give myself over to the nonsense!

    1. Mary Lee, I think a person either has a Nonsense Funny Bone or not...there must be a Wacko Scale, and some people's tolerance is higher than others. Broad puns, for one, make a lot of people groan. I have a good friend who insists that Alice in Wonderland isn't funny and thinks kids don't think it's funny, but my kids and I laughed our heads off with it. I just love the way Brown hears language and can break it down into syllables to find the laughs, but humor is such a personal thing. My bet is that if you re-read it, you'll still be left cold - perfectly understandable. I just love how he takes English apart and reassembles it in such an off-kilter and unique way.

  10. I just ran off and bought the book! So original and unexpected :-)
    My 9th grade daughter told me yesterday that she wants to start a poetry club at school...I'm pleased, surprised, and curious about what would make a successful high school poetry group!

    1. Oh, I would have loved to have a Poetry Club at school when I was in 9th grade. Your daughter sounds like a mover and shaker, Tabatha!

  11. Calef Brown is one of my (and my children's) all time favorites. "Sir Parrot" reminds me of Brown's wonderful pirate poem "Olf." I'll have to get this book ASAP.

    1. I bet you'll like it, Laura - now I'm off to look up "Olf."