Friday, July 24, 2009

If You're Gonna Plagiarize, then Plagiarize Only the Best

Several years back, before I was an honest-to-God "published" author, I used to get away from the house, the teens, the husband and the ever-blaring TV by heading off to a local coffee shop in the evening. It was quiet, except on open mic nights, and served one heck of a cup of hot Oregon Chai with whipped cream and cinnamon. It was a great relaxing place to sit undisturbed and edit manuscripts.

Open mic night was always a crapshoot. Sometimes they had good singers and musicians; sometimes they had bad ones, sometimes totally unbelievable ones. But one thing was certain….you never wanted to attend on the one Tuesday night a month when open mic hosted…BAD POETRY NIGHT!

I always avoided bad poetry night like the plague, but once in a while I would forget and end up subjecting myself to some of the most incredibly vile and inane phrases ever to pass for poetry. But since I always had my manuscript in tow, I would sit and edit, ignoring the readers of the bad poems as much as possible.

The woman who ran poetry night was a local, self-proclaimed expert who, if I remember correctly, taught creative writing at one of the local community colleges. She was old, very short and a bit on the trollish side. She had one heck of an imagination, because the themes of all her poems, at least the ones I had the displeasure of hearing, were about her incredible sexual escapades.


On one extraordinarily memorable occasion, I was plodding right along on my editing chores, dutifully ignoring the troll's sex poems. When she finished, she introduced a rather odd little man who lumbered up to the microphone.

"I am going to read Eckle Sates." He said quite loudly.

Oh no! Not another one of these weird ones! I rolled my eyes in despair. The poem didn't even have a decent name…and what the hell was Eckle Sates anyway? I dreaded the upcoming reading and forced myself back to the task at hand…but my focus was blasted out of the water when he began his poetry reading.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven….A time to be born, a time to die…."

I spit a mouthful of chai across the table. The strange little man proceeded to read the entire of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 1 to 8, and I snickered the whole time while mopping up the mess with a thick stack of napkins. Eckle Sates indeed!

The poetry fans glared toward my table with obvious disdain. I’m normally not rude, but I honestly could not hide my reaction. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as he finished. My relief was more than little premature. What I heard next sent me skittering to the ladies room to avoid utter and total embarrassment.

One member of the audience stood up and headed toward the stage. He walked up and greeted the strange little man as he stepped away from the microphone, patting him on the back and shaking his hand. In a clear and very serious voice he said...

"Wow, John, that was really great! Keep writing!"