“You won’t find 76 trombones in this poem (that was Iowa)…”

TrowbridgeJPGThis is the first line in the “Unofficial Missouri Poem” written by William Trowbridge, his state’s Poet Laureate. A recording of his reading of this poem includes laughter from the audience in 15 places. How refreshing! With the exception of Billy Collins, it’s hard to find university-trained-and-credentialed poets who use humor to deliver important messages. “So much of contemporary literature is still long-faced, self-righteous, dour — one long tuneless lament,” poet David Citino writes. Trowbridge, he notes, “refuses to join the funeral procession.” Is the ability to deliver a well-timed funny line is the most underrated skill in literature today?

William Trowbridge, Put This On, Please: New & Selected Poems (Red Hen Press: Pasadena, CA: 2014), 201.

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