The praise poem was all the rage in certain circles in 1993. Kathy from Pussy Poets started it; she wrote a praise poem for Bobby Miller, and one for me, called “Mary Jane Girl.” “Mary Jane Girl” was all about how I would get her high and listen to her relationship problems with DC, and how awesome of me that was. I loved Kathy, too, but I never wrote a praise poem for her.
I never wrote a praise poem for anyone. The closest I came was a poem I wrote for Eliza, which wasn’t written so much for her as it was written to impress her. The poem was named for my old friend Melissa, and it implied that Melissa and I had slept together; in fact, we had not. But I wanted Eliza to think I had some credibility as a lesbian so that she would like me, and isn’t wanting someone to like you one of the highest forms of praise?
Eliza didn’t have any praise poems, though she had a response poem, which was kind of the same thing; just another way of flirting. Maggie Estep had a poem called “Fuck Me,” so Eliza wrote a response poem called “No, Fuck Me,” and of course Maggie heard about it and was flattered, but she didn’t swing that way, so Eliza read it to me, dancing ahead of me on the sidewalk on Allen Street, really performing the hell out of it. I was dying to swing Eliza’s way, and I almost did, for a few weeks there, after which she dumped me in the middle of Tompkins Square Park. Then I wrote a poem with Eliza’s name in it, but it wasn’t a praise poem.
I started dating Paul, who put me in just about every single one of his poems, which was his way of paying me back for letting him live with me and supporting him while he smoked all of my weed. He read one on stage at the Nuyorican one night – “And Janice will fill you up! And Janice will set you free!” – and I cringed, ashamed. Everyone knew how cheap I was, that I could be bought for the price of a few lines of not very good poetry.
In the meantime, DC wrote a praise poem for me. It was called “For J.E.,” and the word “genius” was used. This caused me to think about dumping Paul for DC, who had his own apartment, and a job, and was also a much better poet than Paul was. So I wrote a poem dedicated to DC. This caused Kathy to retire her praise poem for me, and to change one of the characters in the screenplay she was writing from a wonderful best friend type to an inane slut.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that no poem will get you laid faster than a praise poem, but if you use one to sleep with another poet, you’re either going to wind up supporting them while they smoke all your weed, getting dumped in the middle of Tompkins Square Park, or alienating your best friends. Probably safer to stick to limericks.