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Beautiful Nature

Paperback Writer


All these talent shows out there have got me thinking. We have shows that embody a variety of creative talents—singing, dancing, stand up, film making, even action heroes (yes, really—and I watched almost the whole season)—but what about writing? Don’t we have the right—nay the responsibility!!!—to show the world the difference between good writing and bad writing? Wouldn’t the world benefit from a clear-cut representation of what is considered decent writing? If such a show were to exist, I predict an upswing in student effort in terms of their writing endeavors. The following is an excerpt from the writing show I’ve imagined in my head.

The Scene

The contestants have been given three hours to write a poem using rhymed iambic pentameter about bathrooms.

Contestant number one, Montgomery Smith-Jones, enters the stage and prepares to read his poem to the audience that supposedly fills the auditorium. Canned claps and cheers can be heard as he takes the microphone.


Oh how my heart chills as the door swings wide,                                                          

shadows leap forward and the cockroaches hide.                                                                                 

Cautiously creeping as my bladder fills,                                                                                               

fear lingers, overwhelming, my urine spills.


(Canned laughter and some canned sounds of confusion at the poem’s development.)


Graffitied messages capture my gaze                                                                                         

young Mary’s phone number read in a daze.                                                                              

Wish to remember the contact info,                                                                                           

Friends outside calling, it’s now I must go.

Shadow encounters I’ve had in the dark,                                                                                    

gas station lovers are stealing my heart.


(canned wild cheers from the pseudo audience)

Judge #1, newspaper humorist, Dave Barry

The rhymes were a bit predictable, but I loved the visuals. My only problem is that it seemed more humorous than heartfelt. At the same time, I like your interpretation of the topic. I’ll give you props for that.


(confused canned cheering)

Judge #2, Pulitzer Prize winner, Jeffrey Eugenides

I’m going to have to disagree with my esteemed colleague. Overall, I found the poem to be dreadful. (canned boos) Honestly, (he turns to imaginary audience) didn’t you people notice? The iambic pentameter was bouncy. I could practically hear you counting syllables as the poem unfolded. There was zero effort in the use of metaphor, simile, or imagery. And it took you THREE HOURS to write? A third grader could have produced a better poem!

(the boos grow louder)

Judge #3, professional judge and sometime musician, Randy Jackson


Yah, I don’t know, Dawg, it sounded kind of Dr. Seussy to me.

Jeffrey Eugenides turns to Randy Jackson

Is that even a word? Why is it that all you musicians feel you can just run slipshod with the English language? Bootilicious? Getting jiggy wit’ it? Def? Why are you even here? No seriously, (he turns to producers off stage) why is he here?

Celebrity guest judge, Britney Spears

Well, I liked it. This was a gas station bathroom, right ya’ll? I could really feel it. I’m giving you my vote.

Author's Note: This was written during a simpler time. #FreeBritney

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