I am a Tragedy and So are You: A "Poem?"

I'll be hanging out with Kalamazoo's Friends of Poetry tomorrow night at KPL, answering the question: "Can Poetry Be Funny?"

It's a question that reminds me of something my high school boyfriend once said to me after I read him an insane poem by a dead English dude that blew my mind and went over his head.

"Damn. Poetry is Funny," he offered.

Neither of us laughed.

In fairness, my highschool crush wasn't so dull regarding most things of beauty (to me) in 1991. He loved John Hughes movies and chiseled-face Cubs players (quite seriously) as much as I did. We got along splendidly.

Plus this post isn't about him. It's about me (duh, blog) and about the fact that and as soon as I agreed to 'read' at this "Can Poetry Be Funny?" gig, the event title changed in my head to, crap, "Can I be Funny!?"

The answer to which was a quick and humorless "No."

Participating made me think of how a friend recently asked if I could ever do stand-up comedy. "Nope," I said, absolutely. "I only do Stand-Up Tragedy."

"That's funny," he said, being kind.

It wasn't.

It was more like projectile vomitting up the only rule of comedy I've ever known: "All great comedy is tragedy well-delivered."

My delivery system (mimicking cliche wisdoms with my shaky stupid mouth) is poor, but others' is not, especially the god-dammed POETS'. They make words dance the happy dance. I can find a few of theirs. Good Ones. Funny Ones. Hilarious enough for it not to matter which irrelevant mouth they come out of.

In short, this would not be difficult. I could do this. No problem.

I pored over my personal (angry) poetry shelves with little luck...so...quickly turned to the Internets where truest of tragedies could only be found.

But let's be real. I am old and needed to cheat in searching the vast web of information by recalling holding an actual pretty paper magazine (one that I am a hopelessly vain patron of) and (was I remembering this right?) actually Laughing Out Loud while reading it.  After some clumsy gooooogling and in thanks to my uncreative taste in magazine reading material, I FOUND PRECISELY THE POEMS I WAS LOOKING FOR.

I laughed again "out loud" and with all words in this phrase FULLY SPELLED OUT in my snobby little brain. All was OKAY, or at least would be until I had to hear my voice in a possible microphone on the night of this funny reading.

I'm guessing you want me to share my priceless poetry pick here, but, of course, I can't.

Plus, I know you'd rather come laugh at me tomorrow night.

In meantime, you can take the image at the top of this blog entry (along with your best guess at my unoriginal magazine-reading habit) as a hint to inform your own damn internet search.

Also, the organizers of this event lied when they told me I did not have to write anything to participate as a reader. Within days I was asked for a written bio, and though it was (and remains) a personal goal to never need one of those things until I am dead and my kids want their friends (and their own kids) to be forced into saying nice things about me, I wrote three sentences anyway. Here they are:

"Joanna Parzakonis is a middle aged nincompoop whose passion for books, complete and utter foolishness, and mostly positive outlook on humanity motivated her to open an independent bookstore in Kalamazoo 9 years ago. She has been very tired ever since. She lives with two cats, one dog, one husband and three daughters--each of whom she "adores." Collectively, they terrify her."

[PLEASE LAUGH]