Little Known Poetic Forms – The Tourette

This week’s post is inspired by a BBC documentary (which my nephews in England put me onto), called “I Swear I Can’t Help It”, about Tourettes syndrome. I hope nobody takes offence at me making light of what is clearly a serious affliction, but there was a lot of humour in the documentary.

The Hopkins Guide to Poetic Forms

1.     The Tourette

The Tourette is a little known poetic form, consisting of a single line of poetry. The distinguishing features of a tourette are its content and its delivery. The line must be of a highly inappropriate nature and it must be declaimed in the middle of somebody else’s poetry reading. The value of your tourette is increased if you aim it a well known, serious poet, and if it is entirely in conflict with the other poet’s material.

For instance, if a feminist poet is in the middle of reading a poem about the negative effect which men have had on the world, a tourette exponent might launch a line such as:

Breast implants saved my sex life

If a mytho-poetic / mens’ movement type of poet was in the middle of a poem, an appropriate tourette might be:

Men who hug each other all have tiny penises

For your first attempts at a tourette, it is advisable to station yourself near the exit of the poetry venue, in case your target poet, or the poet’s fans are not admirers of the tourette. As you become more experienced in this fascinating form, you may be able to use the brazen approach, keep a straight face, and sit in the audience as if nothing has happened. This often works, because the audience a) can’t believe it has happened and b) hope to God that you won’t do it again.

The Tourette. A fun poetic form, guaranteed to raise your profile in the poetry world.


7 thoughts on “Little Known Poetic Forms – The Tourette

  1. absolutely fascinating Mike: I’m glad I read this. It’s brilliant. I thought the convenor of the meeting handled it very well. They all had plenty of laughs. And I loved your tongie=in-cheek concept of Tourette as a poetic form. This is very clever writing. I’m going to put you on my recommended sites . I laughed and laughed.

    Just for interest the neurologist Oliver Sacks did a case study of a Tourette’s patient in ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat’

    • Yes I read that Oliver Sachs book some years ago. Fascinating. Glad you enjoyed the snippet of the doco. I think the whole thing is now up on Youtube in several parts. The first part being:

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