Here’s what the Nashers poetry form is:
The nasher couplet is a light verse form envisioned by Ogden Nash, from whom they borrow their name.
The form relies entirely upon humorous couplets of undefined length and meter, existing mostly as a “for fun” form like the much older limerick.
So if you want to learn all about the Nashers poetry type, then this article is for you.
Let’s get right to it!
Formsof Poetry: Nashers
The nasher, named after the American 20th century poet Ogden Nash, is a simple poem form comprised of couplets that have a humorous and often sarcastic slant to them.
They’re generally considered an offshoot of light verse, the branch of poetry dealing mostly with humor and whimsy, which also includes limericks and nonsense poems.
While comedic poems are rarely taken seriously, it should be noted that writing comedy, and especially satire, takes a specialized skillset and approach.
You have to understand your audience and even then there’s no failsafe to keep your jokes from falling flat.
As such the nasher, despite its charm, should be approached with a genuine willingness to iterate and edit multiple times.
Basic Properties of Nashers
|20th century America
|Uncommon; fairly new (by historic standards)
|Comedic, sometimes satirical
How Are Nashers Structured?
Nashers don’t have any particular restrictions in terms of length or meter, but most poems built from nasher couplets are relatively short, not wanting to wear out their welcome since humor often lives in the moment.
A nasher couplet will typically feature a punchline, but how that’s handled is up to the poet’s discretion.
As such, they run the gamut from harmlessly playful to borderline inappropriate, depending on the writer’s sense of humor.
Common types of humor employed include puns and wordplay, as well as more ambitious techniques like satire.
It should be noted that the nasher may only refer to a single couplet within many others, in which the punchline resides, or it might refer to the entire poem.
One awkward expectation of the nasher couplet is the use of wrenched rhyme, or rhyme in which a stressed syllable rhymes with an unstressed syllable.
This may sound easy, but in practice there aren’t all that many real-world examples of words that have the same ending but different stress patterns.
I’ve seen a number of poems styled after the nasher that don’t employ this technique at all, probably precisely because of how awkward it is to try to force it into the poem.
Example of the Nasher
Despite the captain’s best effort
the ship wouldn’t leave the port.
It wasn’t until the sides started to pour
that we realized she was still moored.
Above is my terribly unfunny attempt at a nasher.
I would title it, but there’s this thing called dignity.
Nonetheless, it should give you a basic idea of what the form expects.
Each line should rhyme with its partner until the poem ends, with an emphasis on humor.
Of course, you will hopefully be more suited to comedic writing than I am, else I’m afraid you won’t be cracking many best sellers lists.
Imagine you’re writing a limerick, just with a different structure.
Nashers ultimately use many of the same types of humor in their execution, so it’ll at least give you a bit of a starting point.
Tips for Writing Nashers
Try to predict what your opponent will be thinking at the moment of the punchline.
With enough skill and experience, you might be able to guide their train of thought using the couplets preceding the most important moments of the poem.
Humor frequently comes from subverted expectations.
What we don’t expect is funny, for reasons no one really understands.
It’s not that someone tumbling down the stairs or getting hit in the nether regions intrinsically makes us happy, but that we didn’t expect someone to fall down the stairs or to take a shot between the legs.
Understanding that much will make writing jokes more sustainable, but not much easier.
It really comes down to experience and your natural sense of humor.
While I hate to carelessly throw around words like “talent” it is true that some people just seem to be naturally better at comedy than others, including comedic writing.
Nonetheless, you can learn what other people find funny by watching them closely.
Going to see a stand-up comedian or funny movie and just watching for the moments that get people reeling can be fruitful, if for no other reason than because you’ll have a good time.
Comedy is a medium that’s far easier to experience than it is to teach, so just try to have a good time.
Remember also, though it should be obvious, that humor is subjective.
It’s okay if you think your pun is the funniest thing you ever wrote, and it’s fine if your friends don’t get it.
Your nasher only has to entertain one person to be worthwhile, and it’s okay if that person is you.
Ah, it was only a matter of time before we reached a poetic form based on comedy.
Alas, my kryptonite has been revealed.
My one weakness. Of course, you must have imagined by now that my talents had to have some crack or two.
How else would I have avoided the righteous envy of the gods for so long?
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