It all started quite innocently, as the closing joke for Craig Millar's segment on StAnza for Thursday's STV Six O'Clock News. "What," he asked, "is the collective noun for poets? Perhaps it's a stanza."
Well. I know a challenge when I see it. On Friday morning I posed the question online to see what the good folks of Twitter would make of it. I was rather overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response! It's apparent that this is a pressing issue which poetry fans have been worrying about for some time now.
I've now received over thirty suggestions for what it should be, from poets, readers, editors, journalists, theatre technicians, toddlers and a drunk student. The problem is, they're all really good. I can't decide which one I prefer.
In a sense, it's rather lovely there is such a range of eclectic, eccentric expressions available for grouping poets together—if anyone deserves a kaleidoscopic collective noun, it's poets.
But obviously we need an official winner.
So to help decide what the semiofficial collective noun for poets at #StAnza14 should be, I invite you all to vote by commenting below for your favourite suggestion, or nominating your own ideas. Voting will close at 5pm on Sunday the 9th of March, and I will announce the winner on Twitter from the Festival Finale at 10pm. (One vote per person. The winner will be determined by simple majority.)
Here is the full list of suggestions so far, with duplicates removed:
a stanza of poets (@CraigMillarSTV)
a seethe of poets (@Bunnethustler)
a declamation of poets (@Bunnethustler)
an enjambment of poets (@richardswatt)
a metre of poets (Chris Stone)
a poetica of poets (@BiblioGypsy86)
a muse of poets (@KarenElwis)
a ponder of poets (@KarenElwis)
a paranoid of poets (@ianduhig)
a prose of poets (@LievertSkye)
a migraine of poets (@HonestUlsterman)
an annoyance of poets (anon)
a bitch of poets (anon)
an argument of poets (@wordsmansfield)
a clowder of poets (@Aishatonu)
a daydream of poets (@whatwhowhywhere)
a bridle of poets (@LittleBigSpoon)
a verse of poets (@LittleBigSpoon)
a clump of poets (@LittleBigSpoon)
a haar of poets (@HamishJamesHawk)
a gaggle of poets (@nbissell)
a plethora of poets (@RetconPoet)
an anthology of poets (@BillTrub)
a murmuration of poets (@jellychrissy)
a confabulation of poets (@jackson_mart)
a terror of poets (@ArdenTyneKent)
a please of poets (@ArdenTyneKent)
a cerfuffle of poets (@Derek_France)
a poverty of poets (@PoetWalker)
a judgement of poets (@RossGSutherland)
an unemployment of poets (@VincentOConnor_)
And please do take a deek below for any suggestions people may have commented there.
In true Oxford English Dictionary style, where more than one person has nominated a noun, I have credited the earliest source. I did look up 'poet', by the way, and no official collective noun is listed.
Let the battle commence!
You can find more of James's baseless nonsense on @stanzapoetry, #StAnza14, @empowermint, and through the magic of Google stalking.
UPDATE: The winner was "a metre of poets", submitted by Chris Stone :-)