Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Where Did Lemony Snicket Come From?

Jan Dean

I've been reading some of the poems we did in school when I was 10.
(This is a long time ago... about a hundred years...)
All the poems rhymed. Poets were writing non-rhyming poems then, but teachers didn't use them in school.
Today I've had a great time reading George: Who played with a Dangerous Toy, and suffered a Catastrophe of Considerable Dimensions. by Hillaire Belloc. (Great name, eh? and a great title for the poem.)
If you have a minute and can find any of Belloc's Cautionary Tales you could perform one for your Mum or Dad - or tie your little brother to a chair and perform it for him (just kidding).
These poems are such fun to read out loud; they have fabulous words in them and the plots are dark and funny.
Incidentally, when you read these poems you can see where Lemony Snicket came from. Everything that seems new has come from somewhere, writers are fed by what they read and new poems grow from all the stuff that's in their heads. Things you remember, things you've seen, things you've been told and things that have happened to you - all that stuff gets used by a poem that's growing in your head. And things you've read are part of that too. In my opinion, Belloc's poems are definitely ancestors of Lemony Snicket.


  1. Yes, Belloc's cautionary tales are Hillarie-ous and have the same tone as Lemony.
    If you're looking for more dark, funny and matter of fact performance poems - check out The Lion and Albert by Marriot Edgar which must be getting on for 80 years old! http://www.monologues.co.uk/Albert_and_Lion.htm

  2. It's true just think how Grim fairytales are (sorry) and I grew up loving Matilda's awful lies and gloriously contorted rhymes

  3. Sometimes I hear Belloc's voice in my head when I am writing a poem - is that scary? Not that I even know what his actual voice sounded like but you know what I mean. I've also heard Pam Eyres voice in my head before - now that was scary!

  4. The chief defect of Henry King
    Was chewing little bits of string
    One day he swallowed some
    That tied itself in ugly knots inside of him....
    can't remember the rest.
    Visiting via 'Fried Green Tomatoes' and just loved your profile comment about being an aubergine
    thanks for sharing