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Holy Tango of Literature

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Holy Tango of Literature is a unique and captivating collection mimicking the great writers of literary history. This devilishly witty book has a twist: Each writer's name is rearranged as a title, creating the subject for a parody rendered in the author's style.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Clerisy Press, Emmis Books
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James Swenson
Apr 19, 2012 James Swenson rated it really liked it
What if one wrote a poem inspired by an anagram of a famous poet's name, in the style of that poet?

In most literary anthologies, the hardest decisions involve deciding who to leave out. In our case, it was easy. No decent anagrams? To hell with them.

This is another book I'm not allowed to read in bed: the uncontrollable laughter wakes up the other occupants. I can't decide which of the following I should quote:

i Will alarm islamiC oWls

William Carlos Williams

I will be alarming
the Islamic owls
Francis Heaney is a comic genius. This slim volume mainly contains poems written according to the conceit: "What if poets wrote poems whose names were anagrams of the poet's own name?". Accordingly it contains such gems as "Toilets", by T.S. Eliot, "Skinny Domicile" by Emily Dickinson, "Likable Wilma" by William Blake, and - my personal favorite - "Hen Gonads" by Ogden Nash.

If you don't want to buy the book, pretty much the entire content is also available online, e.g. at

Nov 18, 2014 Gospodyina rated it liked it
Shelves: culled, humor
For the record, I, a uselessly poor anagrammer, did know T.S. Eliot became Toilets.

It's clever. An amusing gift for an English major, I expect.
Jan 13, 2009 Jasenka rated it it was amazing
Absolutely awesome. Also can be found online for free. I read it online and then promptly purchased a hard copy as a gift. Should you read it, I dare guess you would be inspired to do the same.
Mary Beth
Sep 19, 2013 Mary Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Very clever and very funny, with a superb ear for diction and tone, Holy Tango captures the voices of a wide variety of poets and playwrights to gloriously silly effect. The juxtapositions of style and subject matter are often amusing in and of themselves, but Heaney never rests on that alone, creating one witty verse after another, sometimes indulging in adolescent vulgarity but always with such sparklingly playful repartee as to elevate the bawdiest of rhymes to brilliance.
Mar 04, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
Love it!

He took The Great Authors(tm) and made anagrams of their names, which he then used as titles and inspiration for a silly piece written in the original author's style. Got that?

For example, my favorite of course was the Robert Frost parody poem "Brr, Footrest!" which was basically "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening," except about the opening credits of the Dick Van Dyke Show.
Apr 18, 2014 Jenn rated it really liked it
Very impressive to have mimicked the style & tone of so many different poets & playwrights in such a creative way. I found that I am not captivated by Dylan Thomas no matter who is writing it, and Woody Allen is melodramatic and bizarre no matter what. A brilliant idea to showcase one person's range in writing.
Jun 13, 2009 Noemi rated it really liked it
A collection of poetry and skits based on anagrams of various poets' and playwrights' names. Some more inspired than others, most of them completely on-the-mark in terms of getting the poet's or playwright's voice down. The best is "I will alarm Islamic owls," (William Carlos Williams) with "An E-Mail" (A A Milne) as a close second.
Feb 18, 2012 Martha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A must-read for any lover of literature. Heaney tackles everything from T.S. Eliot to A.A. Milne with hilarious results. He stays true to each author's form while writing new laugh-out-loud creations.
Feb 22, 2010 Σς rated it it was amazing
Hysterical. Brilliant. I read it in one night in college 2 years ago. I looked at it again the other day and appreciated it so much more, having read more of the authors being parodied (or given homage). I highly recommend it.
Jan Finkel
Aug 16, 2008 Jan Finkel rated it really liked it
A collection of parodies of poems and plays (scenes)by authors whose names can be made into anagrams. Most are a real hoot. A few may not be suitable for prudes and children: the magic word is there. Heaney assumes that his readers actually know something.
Jun 13, 2014 QS rated it it was amazing
This is pretty much the most fantastic thing I have ever read. I'm impressed at the author's ability to mimic so many authors' styles while keeping almost all of the works funny. I kind of wish he would do a second book of these, because my clearest thought by the end was that I just needed more.
Daniel Klawitter
Apr 05, 2013 Daniel Klawitter rated it it was amazing
Clever and delightfully amusing...Francis Heaney is smarter and funnier than most human beings you are likely to meet.
Rebecca Davis
Jul 13, 2016 Rebecca Davis rated it really liked it
I thought that it got very entertaining near the end of it. I also thought that the anagram game was very fun. I enjoyed the part with the play about Hal and Dave.
Paolo Antonio Livorati
Paolo Antonio Livorati rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2010
Shameel rated it it was amazing
Feb 03, 2015
Amy rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2013
Nancy Coughlin
Nancy Coughlin rated it it was amazing
Oct 07, 2009
Laurie rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2010
Bethany Whinnem
Bethany Whinnem rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2015
Suzanne Costner
May 28, 2007 Suzanne Costner rated it it was amazing
A slim, witty, erudite read, so good I wanted to date it.
Andy rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2007
Allison Borst
Allison Borst rated it it was amazing
May 03, 2011
Eric rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2009
Wayne rated it liked it
Apr 07, 2014
Jul 30, 2007 Kristen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Jasper Fforde
Made for dramatic readings over drinks with a little dinner and friends. Really brilliant.
Clay rated it really liked it
Jul 25, 2012
Joel Bass
Joel Bass rated it it was amazing
Dec 08, 2008
Trista rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2014
Michael rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2011
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