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Know a Poe?

Part of: Literati

This word is my new favorite, but I don't think I'll ever use it:

poetaster POH-uh-tass-ter (noun)
: an inferior poet

Example sentence: "Germaine Greer, Chair Of Judges For The National Poetry Competition 2000, Invites Entries From Readers, But Be Warned: Poetasters Need Not Apply" (Headline, The [London] Independent, May 7, 2000)

Did you know that in Latin, the suffix "-aster" indicates partial resemblance. In both Latin and English, that often translates to "second-rate," or maybe even "third-rate." Not surprisingly, "poetaster" often goes hand in hand with "doggerel," meaning "verse marked by triviality or inferiority." "Most of the people who send me thick sheaves of handwritten or word-processed doggerel," Ms. Greer tells us, in the Independent article quoted above, "appear never to have read any poetry, good or bad . . . . Every week poetasters, like literary flashers seeking to amaze and appall hapless passers-by with the sight of their grey flaccidities, send their effusions to people like me." Are there are other kinds of "-asters" out there? Yes indeed -- we have criticasters, philosophasters, and politicasters, among others.


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