Humour Mixtape

A Poetry Mixtape Edited by Nancy Jo Cullen

Nancy Jo's Liner Notes

I turn to humour for the pure joy of goofing around and burbling with laughter, for a moment of silly to lighten a mood or a day. And I turn to humour to diminish the power of the things that hurt me. The second kind of humour is less silly and more scathing; it’s not always easy, but it serves to remind me that certain things that seem unquestionable can still be wrong or unjust, and that pushing back with humour is not only right, it can also be fun. The great Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell in her song “Other People’s Parties” writes 'laughing and crying/you know it’s the same release'. For me, this has always been true – given the choice I’d rather laugh than cry and even in the lowest, bleakest moments of my life I’ve looked to humour for a relief from grief and loss and anger.

When humour is introduced into work that addresses difficult topics and feelings, it makes it easier to both deliver and receive the writer’s message. To build my mixtape I looked for poems that addressed challenging subject matter in a way that allows both the speaker of the poem and the reader to re-think, and even reclaim, troubling situations. I also looked to poems that were just fun because sometimes a good laugh (or even a little chuckle) is just as important as a political statement. Humour can be sharp, and humour can be silly. 

I suppose the nature of humour is that it’s unique and not all of us will share the same sense of what’s funny. You may find that not every poem on my mixtape is to your taste but I hope you find something in this collection that allows you to explore how humour in poetry can be used to entertain readers and to question problematic thinking.

The Poems

J-Card (PDF)

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