Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial

edited by Daniel Groves and Greg WilliamsonPublication: March 15th, 2018

£10.99

Introduction by Willard Spiegelman

It is 50 years since Atheneum published Anthony Hecht and John Hollander’s Jiggery-Pokery, a compendium of verses known as double dactyls. The double dactyl was the invention of Hecht and Paul Pascal, and is was aptly described on the jacket of Jiggery-Pokery as a devilish amalgam of rhyme, meter, name-dropping and pure nonsense. It caught on, too, just as the limerick and the clerihew had caught on, and has been testing the mettle of many a poet — and not a few aspiring poets — ever since. To celebrate Jiggery-Pokery‘s half-century, Waywiser is delighted to be publishing Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial, a wholly new compendium expertly edited by Dan Groves and Greg Williamson. The volume is dedicated to the memories of Hecht and Hollander, and it comes with a splendid introduction by Willard Spiegelman, Hughes Professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and a regular contributor to the Leisure & Arts pages of The Wall Street Journal. Spiegelman’s most recent books are Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead (2016) and If You See Something, Say Something: A Writer Looks at Art (2016). The volume also comes complete with a cover by the celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser, a singularly appropriate choice since Glaser (still going strong at the age of 88) designed the cover for and also illustrated the original Hecht-Hollander volume.

Coming Soon

ISBN: 978-1-904130-88-8 Extent: 112pp Category:

Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial

Think of ‘light verse’ not as mere triviality but as a special form of illumination. The double dactyl makes its own claims, and does its own work. It has grown over time. Take a look at [Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial]: you will find God’s plenty, wittily miniaturized. The new double dactyls collected by Messrs. Groves and Williamson prove individually and collectively that having once ‘learned’ the rules of the form, a poet may produce a learnèd work, a poem both ‘simple, sensuous, and passionate’ (Milton’s desideratum) and playful, witty, even intellectual … The poets in these pages have extended the boundaries of Hecht and Hollander’s original definitions, and of their anthology of half a century ago. One hopes that the old masters would have approved … Contained in this slim volume, readers will find poems that are didactic, secular, witty, and ironic, as well as illuminating: often sensuous and passionate, perhaps even simple. Their illumination comes, in fact, from their didactic wit. — from Willard Spiegelman’s introduction

Male Gaze

Jiggery-Pokery
Orpheus Porphory
What were you thinking then,
Turning your head?

Love is perdition that
Eurydicedingly
Lingers in hindsight: she’s
Better off dead.

— Kevin Craft

 

Humperdinck

Pat-a-cake Pat-a-cake,
Engelbert Humperdinck
Didn’t sing pop songs or
Pump Heavy Metal.

Though such a fact may seem
Contra-indicative,
He wrote an opera:
Hänsel und Gretel.

— John Fuller

 

Von Hofmannsthal

Higgledy-Piggledy
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Wrote hushed libretti for
Noisy Herr Strauss,

Radiant fables that
Incomprehensibly
Lifted the spirit and
Brought down the house

— J. D. McClatchy

 

Double Ductile

Wittily whiskery
Anthony Hollander(™)
Fifty some years ago per-
fected a form—

Seriocomically
Polysyllabical—
Which quite unlikelily
Took us by storm.

— Brad Leithauser

 

Excerpts

Male Gaze

Jiggery-Pokery
Orpheus Porphory
What were you thinking then,
Turning your head?

Love is perdition that
Eurydicedingly
Lingers in hindsight: she’s
Better off dead.

— Kevin Craft

 

Humperdinck

Pat-a-cake Pat-a-cake,
Engelbert Humperdinck
Didn’t sing pop songs or
Pump Heavy Metal.

Though such a fact may seem
Contra-indicative,
He wrote an opera:
Hänsel und Gretel.

— John Fuller

 

Von Hofmannsthal

Higgledy-Piggledy
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Wrote hushed libretti for
Noisy Herr Strauss,

Radiant fables that
Incomprehensibly
Lifted the spirit and
Brought down the house

— J. D. McClatchy

 

Double Ductile

Wittily whiskery
Anthony Hollander(™)
Fifty some years ago per-
fected a form—

Seriocomically
Polysyllabical—
Which quite unlikelily
Took us by storm.

— Brad Leithauser