Out of print for thirty years, this hilarious
and disgusting anthology is again available, complete and unexpurgated.
The editors, hoping always for the best, have rummaged the arsenal
of English poetry for its most spectacular fizzles. They have
been no respecters of persons: Sarah Taylor Shatford and Alfred
Austin rub shoulders here with Milton, Keats and Wordsworth.
The poems presented are absolutely sincere; no failure is faked.
All infelicities are unintended. As one genius of the awful put
it, “Literary is a work very difficult to do.” But
another, the great Edgar A. Guest, reminds us,
Sacred and sweet is the joy that must come
From the furnace of life when you’ve poured off
Here there is—as James Wright declared, after hearing
these poems—“nothing mediocre!”
“Here must be the most entertaining collection of thoroughly
rotten poetry since—well, probably since 1930, when D.
B. Wyndham Lewis’ and Charles Lee’s Stuffed Owl
was published. And it is not just the poems that entertain.
Introductory notes on the various poets represented and a rollicking
parody of Dryden’s “Essay on Dramatic Poesy” by
the editors alone are worth the price of the book.”
Book-of-the-Month Club News (December 1971)
“Burning Deck has produced some sublimely beautiful
books, but Pegasus Descending may be the most sublime of all.
I can't stop reading it—it fills a real niche in my otherwise
politically correct, avant gardely definitive book collection.
I think what moves me about it is not only the howlers ("We
saw her die—and she is dead" is my current favorite)
but the ones whose weirdness displays the earnestness of the
intent. I mean, "bad poetry" is often great poetry
that, because the emotion is real, tries too hard and falls
over backwards. Thanks for doing this; I'll probably get more
use out of this anthology than a whole shelf of Nortons.”
“The Stuffed Owl has grown long in the tooth.
Although still a wonderfully refreshing sour note in any poetry
library, it now has a worthy companion in Pegasus Descending.
One delightful difference is that Camp et al. arranged their
finds by topic rather than by author: Disasters, Family and
Marriage, Faith and Morals, and so on to the inevitable Death.
As a result these lisping numbers talk to one another and seem
almost to vie with one another for the depths of badness.”
—Richard Wakefield, Light
“Pegasus Descending is guaranteed to keep the reader
entertained for hours... A must-have for any bookshelf.”
—Jason R. Macey, Et Al: A Journal of the Arts
“This is an anthology of the best bad verse, so your
juvenile acrostics and hopeless sixth grade love poems wouldn’t
make the cut—we’re talking Pegasus here, not some
—April Freeley, The College Hill Independent
“In these times it is best to laugh! And that’s
what I did all the way through Pegasus Descending. ”
Basinski Book Reviews, the-hold.com/november 2003