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16 Seriously Funny Poets

A totally scientific list of the funniest poets in all of Canada.

Poetry just isn't that funny.

This is the kind of outlandish and generalized subjective-disguised-as-objective statement critics make about poetry all the time, donning their authority as one might don a hat. Critics do the same thing with humour—as though funny can be definitive, as though it wasn't kind of weird that one guy gets to be the definer.

So now I'm going to do that too, and pretend the following list is scientific and totally not subjective and not at all compromised by the list being limited to books I happen to have on my bookshelf. I'm going to put on the hat and OWN my authority: Behold, sixteen seriously funny poets.

Thanks to Dina Del Bucchia for the inspiration. And in the spirit of conversation (and expanding the limits of science) please tweet us YOUR favourite funny Canadian poems and poets @49thShelf


Book Cover Fake Paul

Fake Paul, by Kimmy Beach

What's so funny: he asks if anyone is called Michelle

I could fucking be Michelle

a frumpy woman with grease

in her hair calls, I'm Michelle!


she's not even looking at him

she's talking to her friends while he sings

                       to her!

he doesn't even look at me the whole song

I'll tell him I broke the wineglass accidentally 

cut myself a bit but I'm all right

leave my blood on the table


I can see the veins in his throat at the high notes

singing in French to an ugly woman who

couldn't care less. 

(from "Show the Next Night")


Book Cover Spit on the DEvil

Spit on the Devil, by Samantha Bernstein

What's so funny:

The comedians, great moralists of our day,

are giving lessons in reality, like

literally, on the meaning of and necessity for

an objective one, as it is known. John Oliver, as text

ing teenage girl, parrots the journalist on CNN:

What does he mean when he says words? A question

we should always ask—Freedom is, after all, a mortgage

company, a mobile subsidiary, arms manufacturer (owned

by Cerberus—seriously); but when this is queried of The President

of an administration that holds the people

beneath umbrellas on Inauguration Day

were protecting themselves

from the big-league heat of God's 

pleasure, the laugh

catches in the throat.

(From "Winter 2017")


Book Cover Rom Com

Rom Com, by Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli

What's so funny: 

The funny thing is you can't remember

how to tell a knock-knock joke.


What do you get when you cross

a kitten's face with Jon Hamm's face


and a grilled cheese sandwich? 

Turned on. And probably disappointed...

(From "The Funny Thing Is")





Book Cover A Really Good Brown Girl

A Really Good Brown Girl, by Marilyn Dumont

What's so funny: 

Dear John: I'm still here and halfbreed

after all these years

you're dead, funny thing, 

that railway you wanted so badly,

there was talk a year ago

of shutting it down

and part of it was shut down,

the day liner at least,

'from sea to shining sea,'

and you know, John, 

after all that shuffling us around to suit the settlers

we're still here and Metis.

(From "Letter to Sir John A. MacDonald")


Book Cover In This House Are Many Women

In This House Are Many Women, by Sheree Fitch: 

What's so funny: 

I'm a feminist BUT I still really like men it's just the patriarchal

white male power structure I don't believe in you understand

BUT then again maybe I'm not a real feminist with a capital F

because I do like lingerie BUT I do believe in equality I mean

it's really okay for a man to wear lingerie too if he wants BUT I

believe women just don't have the same privileges as men BUT

I'm not angry or bitter or lesbian BUT what if I was BUT I just

don't like labels or group mentality anyhow BUT maybe you

could call me an under dogmatist get it like in underneath the

dogma of an ideological stance BUT I think just by being here

on this planet we're all underdogs anyhow... 

(from "Lucy on BUTS")


Book Cover Frequent Small Loads of Laundry

Frequent, Small Loads of Laundry, by Rhonda Ganz

What's so funny: 

...Demeter insists I go on blind dates; 

get used to life above ground.

Says I had a fever, but seem to be 

much better now. 

Emails me the latest stack 

of compatible matches.

Don't be fussy, she says.

They can't all be Greek.

(From "Persephone Tries Internet Dating, But Every Man Reminds Her of Hades")




Book Cover Stowaways

Stowaways, by Ariel Gordon

What's so funny: 

If I had had twins, I would have eaten one.


If I had had twins, I would have cracked

a beatific smile. "Thanks," 

"but no." And primly given it/them back.


If I had had twins, I would have tucked 

them under my arms like footballs or small perfect 

hand-grenades aimed at my breasts: fuck.


If I had had twins, I would have kept mum.

(From "Primipara")



Book Cover Wood

Wood, by Jennica Harper

What's so funny:

Father told me realboys have something inside

them that tells them what is right and wrong, clever

or foolish. The Mindcricket is completely silent,

heard only by the realboys inside his skullbone. It can

spring up at any time, warning of poor decisions

about to be made, such as burying gold pieces and 

waiting for them to bloom. I'm no longer sure I want

to be a really. I can squish my cricket with a broom.

(From "Realboys and Cricket")




Book Cover Throaty Wipes

Throaty Wipes, by Susan Holbrook

What's so funny:

The Disney Princesses outnumber you

The Disney Princesses grace pencil cases, socks, toothpaste, bandages, 

Soon they will appear on dog food and pink insulation. The

    next time you go to your mechanic he will offer you the

     Disney Princesses timing belt.

Lesbians worry their daughter will catch flak about hemp

     overalls and flax sandwiches, so they buy her the Disney

     Princesses backpack.

But even if you wanted to shield your child from the Disney

    Princesses, you couldn't. Someone will lend her a Disney

    Princesses eraser, and she'll be hooked, because the

    Disney Princesses are like crack or PEZ...

(From "The Disney Princesses")


Book Cover Maunder

Maunder, by Claire Kelly

What's so funny:

Stubborn as a turntable

spinning Wu-Tang Clan

until the neighbours pound

an aggrieved beat

on the 3 a.m. walls


Jagged as the schismatic end

of a too-close friendship,

with hangouts and cohorts divided

by even and odd days

into a checkerboard calendar

of camaraderie and loneliness.


Stiff as the drinks

my mother no longer pours 

after finding religion 

in my brother's ashtray:

Jesus' bearded visage

radiating from a nicotine-

stained Styrofoam plate...

(From "Similes from Pure Sleep")


Book Cover Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway

Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway, by Alexandra Oliver

What's so funny:

They all had names like Jennifer or Lynne

or Katherine; they all had bone-blonde hair,

that wet, flat cut with bangs. They pulled your chair

from underneath you, shoved their small fists in

your face. Too soon, you knew it would begin,

those pinkish teeth like shrapnel in the airm

the Bacchic taunts, the Herculean dare,

their soccer cleats against your porcine shin,

that laugh, which sounded like a hundred birds

escaping from a gunshot through the reeds—

and now you have to face it al again:

the joyful freckled faces lost for words

in supermarkets, as those red hands squeeze

your own. It's been so long! They say. Amen. 

(From "Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway")


Book Cover VS

VS, by Kerry Ryan

What's so funny:

Your fists stall, rear

approaching her face


You have to learn to hit


To watch your glove smash

against her forehead

like a fender into flesh


Have to practice to land

a pure shot to her belly—

hard leather echo—

without saying sorry.

(From "the hardest lesson")


Book Cover Yes or Nope

Yes or Nope, by Meaghan Strimas

What's so funny:

I know a guy who claims he's going to live

off the bounty he's growing in his yard.

You should see the two plum tomatoes that hang

like sagging nuts from his leggy vines.

Last count—six peas. But why romanticize? 

(From "Nature Poem")







Book Cover Sweet Devilry

Sweet Devilry, by Yi-Mei Tsiang

What's so funny:


Practice by stuffing jello into pants

Angry jello.













Write a blog post against the hegemonic practices of the

fully-dressed elite...

(From "How to Dress a Two Year Old")



Book Cover the Emily Valentine Poems

The Emily Valentine Poems, by Zoe Whittall

What's so funny:

I am in Vancouver for a family wedding

I am foot sore lost

in the bridal shop, 

lungs heavy.


Everyone asks me,

"Where's your boyfriend?"

and I say,

"In 1989."

(From "Dirt Road Wedding")





Book Cover table Manners

Table Manners, by Catriona Wright

What's so funny: 

I would cut off my own thumb for the perfect thimbleful

of wood-ear mushrooms and bamboo shoot soup.


My pay checks all go to heirloom parsnips and pickled lamb tongues.

I dream of singed pigs' feet, pearly cartilage and crisp skin.


When Cassie posted those pictures of barbecued tarantulas in Cambodia

I wept with jealousy and rage. It took days and days of foraging

for edible moss just to calm myself enough to sleep...

(From "Gastronaut")

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