“Forty-five, ninety or is it one-eighty?
An engineering symbol that’s geometric and weighty.”
Sheer doggerel and great fun to write, my “Ogden Nash-y rhymes,” as an associate dean referred to them, reiterate how nearly impossible it must be to write good, if not great poetry. Reading Shakespeare, Keats or Winters, we can only be humbled, but I enjoy stretching as a writer, taking on assignments without complaint and finding something in each to learn and enjoy. I admire competence more than a gift for flashy novelty, and have no faith in a dandy’s effete reliance on inspiration. I’ll take Ogden Nash over Rilke any day. In Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, Boswell reports Johnson saying: “A man may write at any time [and about any thing, he might have added], if he will set himself doggedly to it.” In his 1974 essay “Writing for a TV Series” (collected in The Amis Collection: Selected Non-Fiction 1954-1990), Kingsley Amis describes writing a television script as “a useful exercise in discipline,” and concludes:
“I believe that any proper writer ought to be able to write anything, from an Easter Day sermon to a sheep-dip handout.”