Michael Robbins, I Accept Your Challenge 8

[ATTENTION: This post is for Michael Robbins’ eyes only. To be clear, the Michael Robbins of whom I speak is also commonly referred to as “That Cat Guy,” “The Kevin James of Poetry,” “Frank Hoax’Hara,” & “Brian Huskey’s Understudy,” and he is a known fan of The Offspring. If you are not Michael Robbins, and are attempting to read this post, you do not have my permission to read it, and must leave my website immediately.]


Michael Robbins, I accept your challenge. As you will recall, the challenge in question was issued by you on January 18, 2013 when you tweeted:

Michael Robbins Poet Poetry Ted Hash-Berryman
And later:

Michael Robbins Poet Poetry Ted Hash-Berryman

It is time for me to entertain you, Michael. I accept your challenge and will enter into a one-on-one competition with you to decide once and for all who is the better poet. I will write you the good poem you asked for; the question is, will you be able to write anything good in turn?

Here are my terms:

  1. We must each write a single poem of any style/subject matter.
  2. The poem must fit on one page.
  3. Since I’m sure that I will defeat you handily, I’ll allow your own Tumblr followers to judge the competition in an attempt to level the playing field.
  4. If I lose the competition, I will retire from poetry. Forever.
  5. Let me repeat that. If I lose, I will retire from poetry forever. I will stop writing poetry, I will stop writing about poetry, and I will even stop writing about how abysmal you are at poetry. On top of that, I will delete the review I wrote of your poetry and persona. I know you have no reason to trust me, but I give you my word that I will comply. By lying I risk losing face and the respect of my modest readership, which is something I cannot abide.
  6. If you lose, you must simply admit that I am the better poet.

Since you are so sure you are a better poet than I am, and since there is no conceivable reason to decline other than being afraid of me, I’m sure you’ll have no objections to my terms, which are generous. I think even you are sharp enough to realize that if you back out now, you will be forced to eat your own words, and will wallow in your own cowardice for the remainder of your days as a writer. Because it is you who initially challenged me, and since we all know how the last poem you wrote under a deadline turned out, I will allow you to choose the date by which we must each have written our poem.

In order to remain fair and transparent, we will each tweet our respective poems at an agreed-upon time, after posting them on our respective websites. You can then create a poll on your Tumblr where your readers will vote on which poem is better. There is no doubt in my mind that they will end up choosing my poem as superior, and that you will be exposed as a hoax to your own followers. I know you may be wary of dealing with me, but this is the only way to get rid of me once and for all. The time is nigh for us to settle our score. I am giving you one week to respond (until 5/30/2013) before I escalate to phase II.

It is your move, Michael. I hope that you make the right one.

Ted Hash-Berryman vs Michael Robbins poetry poet


UPDATE [6/3/2013]: Michael Robbins has contacted me via e-mail. Although he declined to post the poems on his Tumblr page, he did send me a poem. I will now post his poem alongside my own. You may decide for yourself which is superior.

Robbins’ poem:

Please Stop

You must be able to understand
Adorno, Bourdieu, Jameson & see
what happens. (Dean Young, John Ashbery)–
you’re incapable of reading poetry.
But none of this is worth the candle.

I am many things. I can’t be sure
if we were having a conversation.
Yr welcome to your opinion.
That is neither here nor there.
Thunderstorms make me maudlin.

Poets are the dominated fraction.
In Emily Dickinson’s day,
you get yr work published & see what happens.
Given yr willingness, it is no doubt inane
why I am frightened by yr post-Byronic stance.

To understand personae, to recognize irony,
or Edward Lear, learn to see
when a writer is challenging
yr tired notions–you, me, everybody.
I’m afraid I must decline to correspond.
Thank you for getting in touch.

Ted’s poem:

Pre Symbolic High Five

There I was
fully pulling against my
biological info, the radio’s
satisfaction guarantee disqualifying me
from my day. Do you even know
how badly I appeared? Speaking
was like blowing dust clouds
off the morning carpet.
Did a or many substance(s) resurrect
you out of the universe
and back? over to Bolinas! and there
you found nothing. Your presupposed suppositions
under a lit galaxy
matter–the chest warms while
the spine stays cold. Newborn baby,
these are criticisms:
In the early morning the air doesn’t break.
You saw what happened in the third room.
I took all my problems out on you.
A mist always waits until just before rainfall.
Long ago two hands constructed a mid-air language.
Where I was, then, is no recent event.

8 thoughts on “Michael Robbins, I Accept Your Challenge

  1. Reply Derek N. May 24,2013 3:29 am

    Wow, this should be good.

  2. Reply Anonymous May 25,2013 4:51 am

    Fun idea but you’ll be waiting a lot longer than a week to get a response from Mr. Robbins. He talks a big game but runs away at the first sign of confrontation.

  3. Reply hey May 25,2013 1:12 pm

    hash-berryman is actually michael robbins and this is all just a big hoax to get attention.

  4. Reply Vladimir Nabokov May 26,2013 10:19 am

    I have stumbled upon this article by accident, and I am bemused by its pre-adult silliness. If you believe yourself a poet, you simply have to write beautiful poetry – poetry that adheres to whatever ideas of beauty you may have, poetry that tingles the spine (especially that spot between the scapulae) – and not write half-baked blog pieces that my muddle-headed nephew can write better. My advice: get rid of all this nonsense, block your internet connection, calm down, sit down, and write. Whatever will happen, will happen.

    (Also, Mr. Robbins isn’t as bad a poet as you might think. Excellent understanding of metrum and variation, rollicking rhymes, savvy puns. I’ve read some of his criticism as well and – to make a fair comparison – they outshine the puerile mess I’m now commenting on.)

  5. Reply Vladimir Nabokov May 26,2013 8:09 pm

    I am Vladimir Nabokov. A ghost is always allowed to read any article it wants.

  6. Reply Rosie Ruiz May 27,2013 6:54 pm

    I imagine you’ll receive the same response from Mr. Robbins as I received after my challenge issued to Eldrick Woods, Jr., and for the same reason.

  7. Reply Scott Batchelor May 28,2013 12:47 am

    Hopefully Robbins responds. I’m actually excited to see what comes out of this. And here I thought poetry culture had become stale.

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