a spell aginst spelling

December 26, 2009

This Boxing Day I bring you, not a seasonal quiz, but a bit of fun nonetheless. It is a poem but don’t worry. It’s funny. And every copywriter, copy editor, comms officer, user engagement supervisor and media manager should have it pinned to their wall, right next to the Spell-Check poem.*

It is A Spell Against Spelling, by the American poet George Starbuck (no relation), and I got it off a poetry editor’s blog. It goes without saying that poetry editors probably see more misspelled words than most people.

It begins:

My favorite student lately is the one who wrote about feeling clumbsy.
I mean if he wanted to say how it feels to be all thumbs he
Certainly picked the write language to right in in the first place
I mean better to clutter a word up like the old Hearst place
Than to just walk off the job and not give a dam.

Another student gave me a diagragm.
“The Diagragm of the Plot in Henry the VIIIth.”

Those, though, were instances of the sublime.
The wonder is in the wonders they can come up with every time.

Why do they all say heighth, but never weighth?
If chrystal can look like English to them, how come chryptic can’t?
I guess cwm, chthonic, qanat, or quattrocento
Always gets looked up. But never momento.
Momento they know. Like wierd. Like differant…

There’s more, much more, and by the end it’s laugh-out-loud stuff. With an underlying serious message. Look it up. If you’re working this holiday season, gwaan – get out your secret stash of mince pies and have a look!

* You know: “I have a spelling chequer,/ it comes with my pee see…”


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