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Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets

Williams, Mason, 1938-
Artistic encounter,   p. 73

Page 73

Artistic Encounter 
He said: "I beg your pardon, 
But please sir, hear my plea. 
It will only take a moment, 
I'm down & out, you see. 
I only need a little cash 
To see me through the night. 
I've had some bad luck lately, 
and there's no relief in sight. 
I used to own a business 
But the market got so bad, 
I went completely bankrupt, 
Lost everything I had. 
Lost my wife and family 
Lost everything but one... 
All that I've got left is 
This little bitty gun!" 
Mason Williams 
Poet's Statement 
I got the idea for Punch Line Poetry out of one of my old journals. In the
of searching for information for the Parallel Press printing of my Them Poems
book I ran across a roughed out poem titled "The Touch." It was
a poem I had 
never finished and it was never printed in any of my books. When I read it
to my 
friend, Ed Ruscha, he thought I should title it, "Artistic Encounter."
I like the idea of 
the punch line at the end. 
     There are poems with clever endings, surprise endings, etc. What I can
see is a poem form that would be well-written verses of poetry that build
up to a 
punch line. The concept has the potential to make a poet or versifier into
a good 
literary joke teller. Good jokes have good story lines leading up to the
punch line. 
This is where the poet or versifier has to make a good call, i.e., he should
ask him- 
self, "Is the set-up a good story in itself and does it have a great
punch line?" 
     On a broader level I like the fact that this idea has the potential
to inspire 
people to write their own poems or verses as literary ways of telling jokes.
I can 
even foresee a contest where different poets would each write individual
to the same punch line. The winner would be judged on the basis of whomever
wrote the best set up to the punch line. 

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