Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 11:29 UK

'World's worst poet' loses again

William McGonagall
William McGonagall has been ridiculed as "the world's worst poet"

The people of Dundee have turned their backs on William McGonagall and chosen Robert Burns as their favourite poet.

McGonagall, who has been called "the world's worst poet," spent much of his life in the city as a handloom weaver in the jute mills.

He was known as "The Tayside Tragedian" and often had food thrown at him during readings in the city.

But despite McGonagall's links with Dundee, library users chose Burns as their favourite by 188 votes to 25.

McGonagall was born in Edinburgh in 1825, but is most closely associated with Dundee.

A ballot was held to accompany a Dundee Central Library exhibition of Charles Nasmyth's Tam o'Shanter paintings.

We thought there might be more of a sympathy vote for McGonagall
David Kett
Dundee Central Library

Also on display were paintings from Nasmyth's earlier work The Comic Legend of William McGonagall.

David Kett, from the library, told the BBC Scotland news website he was "surprised" by the results of the vote.

He said: "We thought that William McGonagall was becoming more understood, particularly in Dundee. We thought there might be more of a sympathy vote for McGonagall.

"Unfortunately, I think he's still seen as a bit of a joke, whereas in actual fact he was a poor working man who was trying to make his living as best he could.

"In actual fact, his poetry was not much worse than a lot of other poetry that was being composed at that time and he was simply reporting facts as he saw them.

"For a man with very little education he was doing fairly well - he's well remembered, almost as famous as Burns 100 years after his death, and the two will probably be equally famous in another hundred years time."

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