Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Difficulties in rhyming orange, and cautionary scam site tale

Years ago while having lunch with my colleagues someone said they'd found a poetry site online to which you could submit poems with an opportunity to win something or other. We all thought this was a brilliant wheeze and agreed to rustle up a poem and send it in. Most of us did (after discussion I agreed to write the poem in which someone would attempt to rhyme something with 'orange') and then a few days later we all got emails or letters (some had included their postal address!) saying that we'd won the opportunity to have our excellent poems published in an anthology. Not only that but we were all invited to a ceremony in the US at which we'd receive an engraved cup with our name and something to highlight that we were published poets.

Alarm bells rang.

We had a look at the website and clicked on the links we'd been given which would show us the engraved item ready made for us to collect. Unfortunately connection speeds (even in an academic setting) were a little slower in those days and, over a busy lunch time when everyone was surfing, it was clear that what was loading was a generic picture of a metal cup and then another picture of our name was being overlaid on top of it. We were so scammed!

We investigated further and discovered that technically it managed to sail close enough to not being an actual scam to avoid being shut down - it was vanity publishing. It was true that everyone's poems would be published in an anthology which could be purchased and, apparently, people really did turn up to ceremonies at which they were given engraved trinkets. The poems were pretty rubbish though and there was no quality control - one colleague admitted that his poem had just been some random words and phrases stuck together and he was a bit surprised to find himself hailed as a poet laureate too.

I was amazed to find that people were falling for it though - some of the published poems were dreadful and it seems there was no editing of typos or spelling mistakes. Apparently it went on for years and Wikipedia has quite an interesting entry on it.

Anyway, here's my "winning" poem. It's obviously crap but I like to think it has flashes of genius. Fortunately it didn't cost me any money ;)

Unusually orange cereal bowl
By those of linguistic bent
it's said that "orange" s'not meant
to partake in a rhyme
for much of the time
(even written reversed it yields little verse!)

But this edict does not trouble me
nor put me off my poetry
and sustained by my porridge
for rhyme have I foraged...
...while "orange" is rhymeless, its superlatives ain't
I observe that my porridge-bowl has an orangeish taint*
(it's orangeish hue is clearly on view).

So I'm extremely chuffed to be able to boast
that my porringer is oranger than most.

Yes indeed, it stands up to the test,
my porringer's oranger than the rest.

I'm not in jest
Mine's the best
It's the orangest!

Copyright Me, (c) 2002. Also possibly www.poetry.com (no longer a scam site as it's now been bought out by Lulu Poetry).

*technically the term 'taint' with this meaning is archaic / obsolete and you should feel free to replace it with tint, but it doesn't rhyme as well, unless you also pronounce 'ain't' as 'int'.

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