i done writ a poen

–i done writ a poen–

i no your clever, ew go tell mi erryday,

“Cactuses are cacti,”

its “grammar not gramer,”

I were texn en clas:

Saen, “What are you’s up 2?”

“ew wanna cach up at free?”

“Th-ree” “you” “catch”

Wht eva, cee ew then.


Pleez correct mi wen im wrong,

i told ew a fac,t about capitle gain that im learning:

Ew told me, I have it al worng! “Actual:

Spiders’ fall in you’re mouth wile your

asleep,” said mi. That’d be a fact.

“Hmm, No. that was

proven wrong…

eehm, eehm,” sed ew.

Stop clern ur throoht.

You and mi gotta talk, i am fedd

upon you’re games, and correctedness.

alot of pepol been teasing me a bout

what i dont known:

“Labour not Laber,”

“Vote not voet,”

“I ate it, no not: I eatn it.”

i stop 2 pik up kans on the roed.

i study this boook a bout quotes and things.

It towld mi, “ain’t no body need listen to

your critike, and no1 need be right al

the time.”

I mighten be as edujkatd as

ew, but cant i still share my vyews,

and kant you cee i am as humen as thee?”

i kan tawk fanci 2.

the other day gramma gone tell mi

somefin pretty fine. she heard mi

sing and said the old folcs at her rest holme

might like a preformince. 1 of them gone

weep, and told me i got a voice. i

make them smile all day, said gramma.

i no a ridle 2, watch me be a clever fox!

“A man, a plan a canal panama”

Doncha know, sally get yer tung?

Cencor me else il tawk a bout

ceria or boms or threedom

stop mi befor i



i no your clever, ew go tell mi erryday


© Iain Sutherland, 2013
cesorship image: click here


20 thoughts on “i done writ a poen

  1. Interesting. That brought two thoughts to mind. The first was, of course, my personal distaste for bad spelling/grammar etc. However I’ve always been careful to judge someone’s argument based on their points, what they actually know. Based on their quality of thought, not their quality of word (unless their point is that their grammar is amazing). I wish more people could do that, it avoids a lot of unnecessary (and often insulting) fluff in a discussion. The person in this poem can sing, and has thoughts on the trouble in Syria, global issues. His poor grasp of language doesn’t make his thoughts any less important, it may just make it harder for him to communicate them.
    The second thought was me wondering where the line is between correcting someone’s error for their education and being condescending. I have a few friends that I correct every now and then, they’ve said they appreciate it. I assume because they like being able to talk/write better. But if I’ve been correcting one person a lot then I give them a break, because no one appreciate it constantly. I had a slip up of my own, and one of my aforementioned ‘students’ called me out on it. I was so proud if them!

    • Rebekah! I can’t tell you often enough how I appreciate your thoughtful, and thought provoking comments. They let me know I’m understood, and give me confidence I’m not missing the mark.

      You’re right there is a line between acceptance and education. What inspired me was overhearing a conversation in McDonalds where a guy corrected himself several times, he said, “Cactuses, I mean Cacti.” It reminded me how corrective our intellectual circles can become.

      It’s always good to remain teachable, even when you are the teacher.

    • I’m so glad that you were proud “if” them. 🙂

      Where to draw the line is a great question.

      I love to see people express themselves with great ideas and art, even if they butcher most of the formalities I feel comfortable with.

      My only deal is… they have to recognize that spelling and grammar have to at least be moderately understood to make it as a writer or any variant thereof. It is when they think of themselves as professionals or want to become professionals without ever knowing grammar or spelling. Sorry, Here’s Your Sign:
      | |
      |I AM STUPID|
      | |
      | |
      | |
      | |

      And probably anyone with disrespectful attitude towards those who choose to learn and be better with writing and grammar. There is a lot of envy and aggression towards people who “know stuff” versus those who “don’t”. But, there you have your classic “Nerds & Geeks” versus “Shallow-minded people”…. Don’t be mean to smart people just because they are smart. Here’s Your Sign:
      | |
      |I AM STUPID|
      | |
      | |
      | |
      | |

      If you are serious about writing, learn to do it. I have understanding for those making the transition.

      If you are not serious about writing, respect those who are.

      If you are serious about living in the United States, learn English. I have understanding for those making the transition. Not so much understanding for those who are not.

      If you are serious about living in any county, learn the language…
      ___________ __________ __________
      | | | Watashi wa | | |
      |soy estúpida| | bakadesu | | i aptalım |
      |__________| |__________| |__________|
      | | | | | |
      | | | | | |
      | | | | | |
      | | | | | |

      • Fix my dang signs now…

        |           |
        |I AM STUPID|
            | |
            | |
            | |
            | |
        |            |
        |soy estúpida|
            | |
            | |
            | |
            | |
        | Watashi wa |
        |  bakadesu  |
            | |
            | |
            | |
            | |
        |           |
        |i aptalım  |
            | |
            | |
            | |
            | |

        Thank you. Great to be a programmer. Pre tags rule.

      • hahaa, James, you did exactly what I was hoping someone would. I filled the poem with so many errors, some sneaky, some over-the-top, that I hoped it would elicit some controversy. I even tried to put in mistakes where the reader would think I had made a mistake trying to make mistakes. Of course, this poem is extremely exaggerated in its tone, and character; but, that is the point. I am myself a bit of a grammar nerd, a defender of quality, and a corrector of signs. So, I’m glad you took up your cultural sword in the spirit of quality, and readability. —> Try reading, “How late it was, how late*” by James Kelman, that will shock you. *It won the booker prize in 1969.

        My main reason for writing this poem is to harass intellectuals, who belittle those around them for not knowing the facts they themselves know. The result, which I see too often, are guarded conversations and a pervasive fear of being corrected. When I meet these people, I purposely say wrong things to show them how ridiculous they are. Of course, this puts me in the same category–getting one up on them, and making them look silly–but, I always do it in jest. In my class each week, the teacher will ask a question everybody knows, very few ever answer because they are afraid of being labeled as “stupid”, and embarrassed in front of their peers. How ridiculous we are. Nevertheless, this is how it is, I’m afraid. I wish more people would speak up with all their flaws included, like the man in this poem.

        It’s something I’ve noticed more as my friends grow older, and get degrees etc. They have this heightened sense of self-importance, and imagine the world as degenerate full of people like the man in this poem. I am a purist, to a degree, when it comes to preservation of culture; however, I do think it a futile pursuit if it alienates and begrudges our fellow man. If education puts me into the upper echelon of society, then, what’s the point if I choose to keep those distinctions? Education, and most of all poetry, should not become a lofty affair for booky individuals, nor should grammar, nor literature.

        I rattle on, and on. Just a few thought there my good man. Thanks for your thoughts. It’s a fine line, as you can see.

      • I don’t care for those who belittle others as such. For humor, yes. I do that to my wife all the time. She says things like “clumb a tree”. Unfortunately, I find some of her poor English habits rub off on me. Then, she laughs when I saw something like a hick.

        My in-laws are hicks and we all live together on the same 80-acre plot of land. It’s impossible for it NOT to rub off at times.

        Rattle on. I do that all the freakin’ time, but I rarely find anyone that truly appreciates it. Your words are always appreciate from yours truly.

        Fear of being labeled stupid. Sounds stupid. 😛

        And lastly the world does seem full of degenerates. But that is namely in the sense of moral degenerates. Intellectually speaking, I am disappointed in those that have the potential and the opportunity to better themselves, and instead sit on their couch eating Cheetos.

        Thanks for rattling your keys.

        As an aside, what are you favorite things about New Zealand?

  2. Wow….considering how well written your work all ways is….I bet this was difficult to write hehe. Difficult but then I love a challenge. Fun and very well done good sir!! 🙂

  3. I always find sarcasm to be a very effective way to communicate my frustration or irritation at some of the broader, more controversial issues affecting society. I really like what you did here to make your point by going to the extreme in order to grab people’s attention in a humorous way. Doing this often avoids triggering someone’s immediate anger response when confronted with a contradictory opinion and allows them to read an opposing viewpoint with at least a slightly open mind.
    For me, words are tools to convey thoughts, ideas and emotions and if you can do that effectively with your message getting across and received as intended then I could care less if every word you used was misspelled or not. I’m concerned with what is being said and not so much with whether it was said properly according to some set of grammatical rules. That being said, there is value in learning and using correct grammar but there is a huge difference between someone being almost illiterate and someone who spells a few words wrong in a hastily typed message on their touch screen phone 😉

    • You’re right, I think this is why Comedians make such good political activists, they have a natural way of slipping under people’s common expectations and challenging at a place seldom hit.

      This poem was inspired when I kept observing people self-correcting themselves. I found it silly that people would be living in fear of ‘appearing stupid’ because they didn’t use an appropriate suffix, or adverb.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments! It’s great to meet you!

      • I think we are often motivated by our perceptions of what other people will think of us given our actions which can lead to doing things or worrying about things that we needn’t do or worry about!

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