Point of View: Poetry for Reporters and Copyeditors

I stumbled upon a fine journalism poem, celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Point of View

By Hal Kallenburg, Albany Guild, 1958

Copyeditor’s version

He’s a dubious wit
Whose infinitives split
And he’s shunned by the civilized world.
Whether sober or drunk,
He is full of the bunk,
He’s a banner that’s seldom unfurled.

Though his grammar is bad
And his syntax is sad,
His poor spelling is often much worse.
While his simile clicks,
His lame metaphors mix
And it seems that his typewriter’s cursed.

His “reliable source,”
As a matter of course,
Is a janitor, bar-fly or crook.
And he’s often resolved
That where libel’s involved
He’ll dismiss every law in the book.

For with booze on his breath
He can write to the death,
Though an obit is more in his line,
And whatever is best
Said in ten words or less,
He can say in a hundred and nine.

Reporter’s version

He can look down his nose
At the journalist’s prose,
But his burning ambition’s to write.
He’s his own paramour
And his hobby, I’m sure,
Is dissecting the classics at night.

He is quick to berate
What he didn’t create
And, with errors his reason for rage,
There’s a smirk on his lips
As he catches your slips
And condenses your “book” to a page.

Your selection of words
He consigns to the birds,
For he figures the hair must be split.
Though his headlines conceal
What the stories reveal,
He gets cocky whenever they fit.

He’s a frustrated man
And he’ll do what he can
To make sure that a story sounds dead.
Like a French guillotine,
If you know what I mean,
He’ll do anything just for a head.


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