For the Poet: Choosing a Pen?

Congratulations on deciding to make the world a more interesting and even ‘understood’ place.
Long ago, poems were recited, taught mother-to-son and father-to daughter, etc. and thus preserved orally. Today we have pencils, paper, keyboards and thumb-drives, freeing Ma and Pa to work thankless jobs instead of mumbling Beowulf on the castle floor. Progress.
And speaking of work-horses, it behooves us to stay abreast of the latest in technology.  Hence, today’s topic: Penmanship. As in, Bic’s® latest ‘Pens-4-Poets Value-Pak™’, which I recently had the fortune to try out, and am dying to review. So let’s get it on.

    Open the box and right off you’re hit by the myriad of dizzying options. These are not your Quickee-Mart scribblers; no, these are ‘serious tools for serious tools’. Each one has a specific function, and they are all space-age optimised with cutting-edge technology. Let’s be specific:
The ‘Iambic’ set is a great place to start. (The ad-copy boys at Bic seem to have fallen heavily for the ‘I Am Bic’ fortuitous coincidence.) Colour-coded, they each have built in pressure-sensors which actually ‘count’ accents. The sample lines for each one, on page three of the manual, are instructive:
Iambic bimeter: “I count to two”
Iambic trimeter: “I learned to count to three”
And so forth. Oh well, here’s the rest of the set:
Iambic quadrameter: “Today I learned to count to four”
Iambic pentameter: (three(3) supplied) “Today’s the day I’ll learn to count to five.”
Iambic hexameter: “Rejoice! Today’s the day I learned to count to six.”
And so forth… And not to worry. I tried to ‘cheat’ and yes, the pen stops writing if one ‘departs’ from the meter. As long as you’re using the ‘purple pen’, for example, no more illegal lines. But wait, there’s more, of course.

And I’ll already bet, Dear Reader, that you are planning on writing me a nifty ‘Ode to Sol’ in gratitude for my deciphering the sometimes-confusing Owner’s Manual, specifically:
Here’s where the Bic-boys© at their Wells Bardo, SD equivalent of Skunk Works went wrong, in my opinion…
The ‘Tri-Plus’ pen, confusingly  colour-coded just like the ‘Trimeter’ save for an additional length-wise stripe, incorporates their “Bic-Smart” IQ-tech™  features by default. That means that with it you can only write poems extolling the Trinity, tykes-on-trikes, a ‘troika’ (with Cyrillic font-support enabled), or basically any other theme, but on condition that it must include ‘the number three’. I suppose one could get used to it though.
The book goes on to explain each one:
Quad-plus: ‘Poems about college dorms, 4-wheel drive vehicles, The Four Seasons song lyrics, etc’. Hmm.. I tried to write ‘Three square meals a day’, in a poem as a plea for support for the homeless, and it ‘acted-up’, intermittently refusing to ink the page. Oh well. They do have a ‘Report bugs’ web-site, although I haven’t as yet tried it.
Penta-Plus asesses the degree to which the user is supressing ‘pent-up’ emotions’. How they do that? Go figure. Anyway, I actually liked this pen (it’s green. For envy, rage?) It quickly forced me to rewrite:
“I think that I shall never see/ A billboard lovely as a tree” as
“WTF!! I hate fucking billboards!”
Who knows? Maybe I’m the one with the passive-aggressive problem.
Hex-plus is fairly forgiving; Verses about Magick, unfair persecution, evil ex’s. Great for Emos, dumped spouses, schizophrenics. (Refills available from the web-site.)
And so forth… Septa– allows vignettes about the Phila transit system, but also, in my tests, writes perfectly on the ‘grass being always greener over the septic system’.
Octo-plus: By now you probably get the picture. Poems about ‘octopi’, obviously, but also anything to do with eye-sight and, luckily, ‘vision’, both literal and metaphoric. A great pen, all in all.
    One would think that by now the selection would have been exhausted. ‘But ‘one would be wrong’, as I love to say. Yes, each of these pens  come in three quirky ‘flavours’, somethng like quarks. This we discover only upon lifting the tri-layered box’s packing, much like the gift-chocolate pieces you get from family and friends for Hanukhah. Yes, although the top ‘layer’ is ‘Iambic-pentameter’, for example, one can also choose from ‘Amoebic-pentameter’ or ‘Anemic-pentameter’. Here it gets ‘interesting’, to say the least:
The ‘Amoebic-‘ set ‘cuts-out’ at the very first hint of anything concrete. Don’t bother trying to describe the Moon as a roughly-spherical rocky mass of orbiting eons-old ‘space-junk. Even ‘We are stardust!’ barely prints legibly. Have fun, but don’t be specific.
And ‘Anemic-‘ is even more proscriptive; these pens, probably best given away as presents to one’s friends and/or relatives in old-folk’s homes, work only as long as the writer’s compromised self-image screams silently from his whimpering lines. (ex: “I’ll probably never see a tree/ I’m weaker weekly; woe ist me.”)

 Bottom line: At $59,95, there is truly something here for everyone. I’ve already run the Dalmation-spotted ‘Doggerel-plus®’ pen out of ink, and enjoyed every barking minute of my experiments. And if I should ever tire of that much-despised form, ‘Kat-man-du-Plus’ is there in the box, waiting for ‘Ode to a Way-ward Pussy-cat.’

Choosing a proper pen for poems is no laughing matter.
give the Boys from Bic© a try, won’t you?


35 thoughts on “For the Poet: Choosing a Pen?

  1. elgan

    I felt the desperate need to leave you a comment, and couldn’t think of anything remotely witty to add, since you have said it all, my friend, in this delightful review. And then it occurred to me that you live in the country of “pananas” where an ancient Hellenistic shrine in the north dedicated to the departed god Pan is called Banyas by the locals because they cannot pronounce the unvoiced version of the leading consonant in that place name. This then opened up a whole new kettle of poissons as I reread your post, substituting one letter for the other. Now I feel much better, I mean petter. Thank you.

  2. ZSA_MD

    This was a grand post indeed. I have always loved Joyce Kilmer’s poem The Trees. It is a beautiful poem indeed. Personally, I almost never use anything other than a fountain pen. I am weird like that. I need my Parker Quink ink, and my different fountain pens. I collect them. I usually write my poems on paper with my fountain pen and then transfer to Word.  But like the poet above, says in her poem, pens and papers and poems, are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree!So, I am sorry, I can’t have much use for your Bics.

  3. jsolberg

    @elgan –  Yes, I need to review the competion, to be fair, but ‘Ben’s Pens’ is in a nasty takeover battle with ‘Pens by Ben’. P-B is a familiar shiboleth here: I know the language of a ‘worker’ as soon as he asks to borrow either a ‘Pateesh'(heb) or a ‘Bateesh’ (Arabic). In either case I’ll never see it again. Happy writing.

  4. jsolberg

    @ZSA_MD –  Well, at least now we know some of the hi-tech options out there. Kilmer got a rest-stop in his name on the Jersey Turnpike, all I got was this lousy box of Iambics. Thanks for your nice comment

  5. jsolberg

    @scifiknitter –  ‘Over-the-top’ is always one of my worries here. But as long as it’s full enough to make it to up-state New York, my ink was not in vain. And yes, your guess is correct: It’s mainly for you:)

  6. jsolberg

    @POETIC_ISIS – Wow, how did you get your hands on a pre-release AmoeBic sex-tameter?! The one in my box was missing; stolen, I assume, by either the mailman or some other un-scrupulous civil-servant in the chain of command. I’ll have to read the accompaning post. Colour me green/

  7. scifiknitter

    I couldn’t help but wonder if my blogof rhyme and meter acted as a jog.Who else could see the pen in iambicThan Jon the Poet, Xanga’s laureate?Yeah, the last two lines don’t scan or even rhyme correctly. Let’s not ask for perfection on half a cup of Sunday coffee. I’m still chuckling over the sample of anemic pentameter.

  8. MelFamy

    What a coincidence! I just finished reading the latest issue of  What’s HapPENing, the official organ of the ink-based digital communications implement industry. One article in particular, condensed below, I found quite interesting….NEW LINE OF FOUNTAIN PENS ARE THE BEE’S NIBSThe new line of fountain pens by watermark has made a splash in the analog scrivener-sphere. The ink rushes through a series of pools in the Cascade model, before flowing smoothly onto the page. With a Three Coins In a Fountain Pen, you can wish you were a better writer three times before coughing up a penny of your own, you cheapskate! The Fountain Pen of Knowledge has the first spell-check for a non-digital messaging device. Start to mispell a word, oh, say ‘misspell’, and its stirling engine kicks in, the pen retraces the errant lettering,  automatically applying white-out, and guides your hand as it corrects you, the tinny voice emanating from the speaker gently chiding you for disgracing your teacher’s hard work. Watermark hopes to reduce the weight down to a workable 12 ounces when the new series premieres next spring.

  9. Roadkill_Spatula

    My pen of preference came free from whatever hotel I stayed at most recently — whatever hotel at which I most recently stayed — at whatever hotel most recently which — the hotel at which I last stayed, whatever it be… But I would never think of writing poetry in pen, or even in pencil. Besides the fits and starts and scratchings-out, anything written in my handwriting ceases immediately to look like Literature of any sort, and begins to look like the random markings made by the pen of a diabetic junior high teacher nodding off in insulin shock whilst filling out grades. (If I ever find that particular report card, I’ll post it.)

  10. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – haha. I actually enjoy having a poem so begging to be jotted down during work that I’m reduced to scribbling it in shorthand, and in long-hand. I carry the precious scrap home at night like Mrs Paul’s Create-a-Poem mix. Just Add water and Ms-Notepad and voila. Ok, sometimes tartar sauce.And with your of late collection of hotel memoirs, I gussed your favorite pen… and probably little bar of soap. Towels?

  11. Roadkill_Spatula

    @jsolberg – I only take the freebies. No towels, no robes, no pillows. Occasionally the laundry bag. But I can imagine that your posts take a lot of work, and that you think about them as you do your regular job. Someday a remodeler will no doubt discover a hidden literary treasure in Yoni’s hand done in carpenter’s pencil on a pine 2×4.

  12. jsolberg

    @MelFamy – Only my promotion-contract with Bic prevents me from gushing over your comedic deluge. ‘Watermark” *spits* does write under water, it’s true, as anyone who read The Old Man and the Sea and the last chapters of Moby Dick can testify, but hey, my hands are tied.

  13. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – Ha, I’ve even scratched ’em with a nail on drywall ‘off-fall’, or, as we luckily call it here, in Yiddish, ‘Ab-fallen’. (I feel equally at home in Lancaster Co, PA and Haifa, linguistically.) Statute of Limitations on the soap-ettes is three(3) weeks, btw. My favorite is from Prague, warning me in Czech not to eat it. Judging by the food at their ‘breakfast-included’ bar, I can see how the temptation might exist.

  14. MelFamy

    @jsolberg – I like what you said about having a poem come to you and needing to write it down immediately. I, and the world, I might modestly add, have lost masterpieces because my HP takes so long to boot. There is something to be said about keeping to the old ways.

  15. Roadkill_Spatula

    @jsolberg – Wasn’t it Roosevelt who commissioned the Statue of Limitations? I have yet to see it. Next time I get to DC I’ll be sure to look it up. The best breakfast bar I’ve ever enjoyed was in Budapest at the Kempinsky. Phenomenal, as were their soaps and shampoos, which I carried around in case I got hungry during my sightseeing.

  16. jsolberg

    @MelFamy – I bought a Radio-Shak ‘personal’ tape-recorder once, then ended up once agin, back on my knees, writing in my ‘To Do’ list: ‘Find the damn tape recorder!’ Chaucer didn’t have this problem, but he probably had to blow his friends in order to get them to memorizes his Tales.

  17. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – Hmm.. two(2) Roosevelts to Wiki, one with a big stick and one with a walking-stick./ Buddha-pest is lucky, Their middle-name being ‘HUNGRY’.Czech food is mainly Kafkaesque sausages, and these days un-aided by -Slovakian condiments. Nationalism’s tail wags the dog of cuisine.

  18. Roadkill_Spatula

    @jsolberg – That reminds me of the book One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, in which the main character (played by Jack Nicholson in the movie) asks, “Who’s the bull-goose loony around here?” and in the ensuing one-up banter with Billy Bibbit, says, “You tell him I voted for Eisenhower twicet!”

  19. frtnr_mama

    Time out!  I had to take a guffaw break to come here and tell you how I laughed at the “WTF!! I hate fucking billboards!” line!  Ok, I’m gonna go finish now… 


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