As the poet G. C. Waldrep rightly noted at a reading I attended, "There are two poems. The one on paper and the one you read out loud." This distinction motivates William Shatner's 1968 spoken word album The Transformed Man. If you haven't heard Shatner's rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," I urge you to do so (see below). Over the years, this album has undergone its own "transformation" from "worst album" to "so bad it's good" relevance thanks to the ongoing generosity of parody (most notably in Family Guy). Recently, Shatner appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where he performed an excerpt of Sarah Palin's farewell speech as a poem. I had to laugh when O'Brien introduced him as a "master thespian," but I think it's fair to say that Shatner has a gift for self-parody. A jazz duo accompanied him, giving the performance a "beat" quality that worked well with Shatner's deadpan delivery and, again, gave the performance a risible air of authenticity. I must quibble, however, with O'Brien's insinuation that poetry is what is nonsensical. Arguably, Palin's speech makes far more sense when it is crafted into a poem. To demonstrate I've included the "poem" below but added line breaks where I saw fit, and because I can't help but cram another crazy juxtaposition into this post, the font is inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind.
This Last Frontier by Sarah Palin et al Soaring through nature's finest show. Denali, The Great One, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes.
In the winter time it's the frozen road that is competing with all of its ice fogged frigid beauty,
the cold though, doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime such extremes summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins.
And it is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future