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Everyday ReadingPoetry and Popular Culture in Modern America$
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Mike Chasar

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158657

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158657.001.0001

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The Business of Rhyming

The Business of Rhyming

(p.123) Chapter 3 The Business of Rhyming
Everyday Reading

Mike Chasar

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the Burma-Shave poems, a form of advertising technique by the Burma-Vita Company in which they posted humorous rhyming poems along highways to promote their shaving cream, Burma-Shave. The Burma-Shave poems exemplified the commodification and for-profit use of poetry in modern America. The chapter demonstrates how a large amount of popular poetry was explicitly commercial in orientation, as it was issued with various consumer and promotional goods ranging across media. Contrary to the familiar image of the poverty-stricken poet, some people made an adequate living by participating in the monetized poetry business. A growing body of scholarship studying the relationship between literary writing and advertising suggests how canonical authors were fascinated with the possibilities for artistic expression offered by the marketplace.

Keywords:   Burma-Shave poems, Burma-Vita Company, commodification, popular poetry, monetized poetry, literary writing, advertising

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