Hungry for a little poetry?

By Roy Williams

"SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM etc"

It's hardly poetry, is it? But it did help to make the Hormel Foods Corporation's luncheon meat reasonably famous during the golden days of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Pythons have become old and respectable, but the SPAM goes ever on, thanks to a site on the World Wide Web which is at once a tribute to what Chambers Dictionary defines as "tinned processed meat made mainly from pork" and a celebration of haiku, a three-line, 17-syllable poetry form.

Williams' Wacky WebsitesOne site looks like a labour of love for John Nagamichi Cho, who opened his haiku SPAM archive under four years ago and has since received more than 12,000 haiku on the subject.

He's even collected them into a book: SPAM-ku - Tranquil Reflections on a Luncheon Loaf.

On his archive's homepage, John writes: "This WWW site was created so that anyone who comes under the influence of this enigmatic porcine muse can share his/her poetic epiphany with the rest of the world. Even if you are not inspired to contribute to the archive, you can browse through and marvel at the works of genius that SPAM has motivated in others."

The SPAM haiku collection is as close as you'll get to literature on the web, although its success has surprised even its webmaster, as he told me by email.

SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM....Says John: "Four years ago there was a small collection of SPAM haiku' (technically senryu) of unknown origin being passed around on the Internet.

"When I received them I thought they were the funniest things I'd come across in quite a while.

"I immediately wrote a bunch myself and passed them on to a friend, who also did the same then suggested I start a Web site to collect others' work. After that it was like in that movie, Field of Dreams: I built the archive, and the SPAM-ku arrived. In droves.

"Since the archive opened in June 1995, I've been receiving 10 entries per day on the average. We have well over 12,000 now. It's been written up in most major U.S. newspapers, the Independent in the U.K., Le Monde in France, etc."

So, what's it all about?

SPAM is only cool
Because of Monty Python
Bacon, anyone?


Of all the SPAM joints,
she had to walk into mine.
Play it again SPAM.

S. Bookner

Years of ingestion
Fat chunk in veins dislodges
Soon a heart attack


SPAM IS history
The heroine of all meats -
Treat her with kindness

Loretta Forgetta,

Bill said, "I did not
eat SPAM with that woman, Miss
Lewinsky. Yeah...right.


Simmer in saucepan
SPAM mixed with herbs and spices
Throw out meat, eat pan

Tom Elliott,

Inspired? John says he will continue to accept these mini odes to SPAM for as long as they turn up and he has access to the Web. Write on.

Roy Williams is an assistant editor of the Express & Star with responsibility for new media.


Copyright 1999, The Express & Star.