- in yearbooks, and
- at open-mic poetry readings.
I'll leave somebody else to compile a list of Bad Poetry Themes ("moth to the flame" and "broken china doll" are my favourites, not to mention your average thinly-veiled threats of suicide), but I want to bring up one pervasive technique of bad poetry: forcing the rhyme by displacing the verb.
(Please note that I learned everything I know about English from reading books. So I know how English is supposed to be written, but I don't necessarily know the technical aspects. So if I'm wrong in my explanation for WHY the following technique is bad, please let me know, and recognize at least that it IS bad for whatever reason).
The Bad Poetry Author settles on a single verb that fits the rhyming scheme of his or her poem. In this example from the 1956 edition of "The Grumbler" (the Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate yearbook), poet Barbara Kraft has written:
The soft, gay voice now stilland she can think of only ONE POSSIBLE WORD that rhymes with still: "fill". But the problem is, the verb form "fill" doesn't come at the end of sentence clauses. "Filled" does...but "filled" doesn't rhyme with "still!" (let's ignore that "still" shouldn't come at the end of that clause in the first place).
So Ms. Kraft does what bad poets always do: she sticks "fill" at the end of the clause anyway, and since it can only be placed there in the infinitive form, she has to add "to" or "did" or "will" or "so" in front of it:
Her heart with grief did fillDamn! That's awkward and bad and all wrong! "Her heart filled with grief" would be correct, but then she'd have to change her previous line to rhyme with "grief," and that's too hard! It might be trying to evoke some classical sentence structure, but it never works...and sentimental bad poetry is FULL of this! Here are some more examples from "The Grumbler":
"A night by strife so torn"See what I mean? This drives me nuts, even when they try to soften it a bit with a few extra words ("so quiet lay"). If you're a bad sentimental poet, think about it this way: when with this method I do write, my writing correct does sound? No, so stop it!
"Stained red with blood so quiet lay"
"All hearts i' the castle now do weep...
...Two hearts true, their love to keep"
"Which round thy sands do seethe"