Six Shakespearean Tailgaters


The Comic’s Complaint

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
How come you listen but won’t laugh at my gags?

The Audience Responds

What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Don’t you hear the snoring in the room?

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
Do a bit of pruning, you simple twit!

Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With Curly, Moe and their buddy Larry!

Cudgel thy brains no more…for your dull ass
Cannot vent good humor, only gas.

I must be cruel only to be kind.
Another joke like that and you’ll be fined.


Note: There have been several new books published by Prof. Turco and his alter ego Wesli Court.

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LEWIS TURCO was founding director of both the Cleveland State University Poetry Center (1962) and the Program in Creative Writing at the State University of New York College at Oswego (1968) from which he retired as Emeritus Professor of English in 1996. He took his B. A. from the University of Connecticut in 1959 and his M. A. from the University of Iowa in 1962. In 2000 he received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Ashland University, and in 2009 he received another from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. His poems, essays, stories and plays have appeared in most of the major literary periodicals over the past half-century, and in over one hundred books and anthologies. In 1999 he received the John Ciardi Award for lifetime achievement in poetry sponsored by the periodical Italian Americana and the National Italian American Foundation. In 2008 he received the Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award given by the West Chester University Poetry Conference.

Prof. Turco’s The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics has been called “the poet’s Bible” since its original publication by E. P. Dutton in 1968, through three editions, the most recent in 2000, and many printings; it was included in the New York City Schools’ list of “Recommended Books for Teachers.” A companion volume, The Book of Literary Terms, received a Choice citation as an “Outstanding Academic Title” for the year 2000. A third volume in this series, Dialogue, How to Write Effective Conversation in Fiction, Screenplays, Drama, and Poetry, appeared in February 2004 and was chosen in 2005 by the AAUP as a “University Press Book Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries.” The publisher of all three books is the University Press of New England.

Turco’s first book of criticism, Visions and Revisions of American Poetry, published by the University of Arkansas Press, won the Melville Cane Award of the Poetry Society of America in 1986. Star Cloud Press of Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2008 brought out The Museum of Ordinary People and Other Stories, and his history, Satan’s Scourge: A Narrative of the Age of Witchcraft in England and New England 1580-1697 was winner of the Wild Card category of the New England Book Festival in 2009.

Star Cloud also published The Collected Lyrics of Lewis Turco / Wesli Court 1953-2004, the latter sobriquet being an anagram pseudonym under which he has published most of his traditionally formal poems. In 2007 the same publisher brought out Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, a gathering of non-traditionally written poems, some of which had originally won book prizes: the American Weave Chapbook Award for The Sketches in 1962, the Silverfish Review Chapbook Award for A Family Album in 1990, the Cooper House Chapbook Competition for Murmurs in the Walls in 1992, and A Book of Fears: Poems, with Italian translations by Joseph Alessia, won the first annual Bordighera Bi-Lingual Poetry Prize in 1998.

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