Tribute to Humor
Carl Phillips & Aram Saroyan
Funny on paper isn’t easy. So much of humor relies on tone and timing, and all the nonverbal cues of the comedian’s trade. We received far more poems for this theme than for any other we’ve done–perhaps as many as 10,000 were submitted–but the Tribute to Humor is no longer than any of our other themed sections. After six months of reading, only 25 poems tickled us enough that we can call them funny. They deploy a number of strategies: Some use pacing and enjambment to mimic comedic timing. Others carefully craft a voice to conjure their own comedians. Some set up rhymes in order to subvert the rhyme’s expectation. Some leap wildly into the absurd. Some are funny stories, simply told. The only thing they have in common is that they kept us laughing through a long winter of editorial meetings, and we think they’ll keep you laughing, too.
As always, the tribute is the focus of the issue, but not the totality of it. Rattle #33’s open section features the work of 38 poets, including a long narrative poem-noir by Tony Barnstone, with illustrations by the artist. Also, Alan Fox interviews Aram Saroyan and Carl Phillips, and in the back pages, our first-person contributor notes are almost as fun to read as the poems themselves.