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How to Write a Poem Parody

Updated on January 14, 2013
A man tearing out the guts of his refrigerator
A man tearing out the guts of his refrigerator

I have found that writers learn many of the forms of poetry more thoroughly if they write parodies of poems. Writing a parody is a good way to learn the “guts” of any type of poetry—and a good way to have a little fun. When you parody a poem, you use the form of the poem to make fun of the poem. Some of my students never liked poetry at all until I allowed them to parody the poems in our textbooks.

Let's look at our victim:

“This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams:

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox


and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast


Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

When a college professor first presented this poem to me, I didn’t think it was a poem at all. It reminded me of a cruel note someone might leave on the refrigerator: “Hey, I ate the plums you were coveting, and they were delicious!” Naturally, my students enjoyed writing parodies of this poem, and here are a few of the thousands they have written over the years:

Student parodies

I have microwaved

the gerbil

that was in

its cozy cage


and which

you were probably

hoping

would have gerblets


Forgive me

it was precious

and gerbils

are a low-fat snack

-----------------------------------------

I have spot-welded

the braces

that were in

your mouth


and which

you were probably

hoping

would cure your vicious overbite


Forgive me.

If you like

I’ll super-glue your

lips shut later.

-----------------------------------------

I have chain-sawed

the bed

in which

you were sleeping


and which

you still haven’t

finished paying

the furniture store for


Forgive me

at least now

you’ll have more room

for your split personalities

-----------------------------------------

I have torn off

the arm

that was once

on your body


and which

you were probably

hoping to use

to lead a normal life


Forgive me

I had to disarm you

and besides

you have another one

Now it's your turn

What have you done to what (stanza 1), what are the ramifications of what you’ve done (stanza 2), and what is your “apology” (stanza 3)? Have fun, and try to start your poem with an active verb!

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