Using poetry in a street fight

(An earlier partial draft of this posting was inadvertently posted a while ago. This is the final draft.)

From Ryan Tamares (a Stanford librarian — this is relevant — who got it from other librarians on Facebook) a few days back, this image of a book:


I was much taken by the title — who would not be? — and asked about the book. Ryan (who has serious resources for checking on such things) was surprised to discover that no such book seemed to exist. So, presumably a wry bit of language art, but who was the artist?

Indeed it is, and I found the source through a blog posting for National Poetry Month in 2016.

On the “Oh, by the way” blog by “Interior Designer, Actor, Poet, Artist” the mononymous Jeff: “Smart Ways To Use Poetry In A Street Fight: In honor of National Poetry Month” on 4/3/16, the artist is identified as Johan Deckmann, who specializes in language art framed as book covers. From his “About” page:

Johan Deckmann is a Copenhagen-based artist, practicing psychotherapist and author, whose works examine the complications of life through witty one-liners painted on the covers of fictional “self-help” books. These book titles, though often filled with scathing satire and humour, tackle life’s biggest questions, fears, and absurdities.

A words-only example, in a frame (so that it is presented as Art):


4 Responses to “Using poetry in a street fight”

  1. John Baker Says:

    Sadly, in the commercially available edition it seems that all of the pages are blank,

    However, Prof. Oddfellow has kindly posted speculative fragments of the volume,

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      John’s response was to the earlier partial draft, but it is nevertheless a propos.

      The Amazon item is one of many in which arresting images are used as covers for blank books, in which people can take notes.

      The Oddfellow is another matter, a gigantic academic joke in which the writer takes using poetry in a street fight entirely literally and imagines what the material in such a book might be like (even if the original text has been, unaccountably, lost).

  2. Glenn Brockman Says:

    Dear Arnold,
    If you are not yet acquainted with Alexei Sayle’s ‘The Noble Art of Verbal Abuse’, then please allow me to demonstrate…
    Thirty years on, this is still one of the funniest things i’ve ever seen.
    Greetings from Bunbury, Western Australia.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      This is indeed wonderful, and I thank you for it. This particular posting of mine is only tangentially connected to verbal abuse — but I’m working on another posting on smears and jeers, where it’s more directly relevant.

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