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What do Billy Collins, Punxsutawney Phil, and the New Zealand Dr. Who Fan Club have in common?
Absolutely nothing, but now you’ve got something in common with Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan: his straight-shooting “On Poems That Have Nothing to Do With Their Titles,” cries out on behalf of anyone who’s been hoodwinked by a headline:
We are uncouth. As is most of America. We are not highly literate; we are middlebrow and low-minded. But still. Do not try to trick us into reading shitty poems with an enticing title. We do not like that.
Nolan, swindled into reading a poem over at Slate against his better judgment, determines to give it a Good Honest Try despite the lowness of his brow. The poem begins:
dissolves, lets me pass, nods assent. I mouth ”morning,” eye the candied, cardamom gloss of my shoes, shrug against the cold. Everything, as the nomenclature goes, 4 Sale: this Smithean forge this Stereoscope- by which I mean, of course, the wan illusion of depth
Of course, duh. Every time somebody starts talking about “this Smithean forge this Stereoscope” around me I’m like “Whoa, buddy, hold on just a minute there. Do you mean the wan illusion of depth?” And they’re always like “Yeah, of course, sorry about that.”
…but sadly, in the end, is disillusioned:
Hold on a second brother. We read this whole poem and there was nothing about LOLfauxhemians at all and then in the very last line you’re gonna be all like “Good-bye Bill-y-burg” and act like it’s cool to just use that for the title of the whole thing? I mean it is old-timey how you put the hyphens in the word and that kind of reminds me of like 25 year-old guys in Williamsburg who dress like Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York and shit, with very insistent mustaches, and that kind of brings a smile to my lips. But did you even mean that? Am I giving you too much credit here? I’m not very happy about having read this whole thing.
Had enough of tantalizing titles? Find the rest of Nolan’s story here.