prodigious, awful zenith?

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Senior Member

I'm reading 'Bittersweet', a memoir written by Matt McAllester.

<My mom'd spent hours poring over many authors, over and over.
Then came her own poety, which reached its prodigious, awful zenith
in the mid 1990s, as the contents of the suitcase(where mom's poetry kept in) made only too clear.

This is too hard for me to understand clearly.

She read many books and she started to write her own poem.

And the rest is too hard for me. 'zenith' means 'peak'
I don't get the clear picture about 'prodigious=extroadinary',
'awful=weird' zenith....

Could you domb-down these expressions?
  • MichaelW

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    Prodigious can mean extraordinary in size or amount.
    Awful here means bad or very bad.
    Zenith is the peak or high point (of mom's output).

    So she is writing increasing amounts of bad poetry, with the height of her output in the 1990s.


    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Prodigious means "a huge output". It is usually a positive word, but here he is juxtaposing it against "awful" for comic effect.

    He means that his mum was writing loads and loads of stuff - and it was all dreadful.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I get the impression that McAllester does not think his mother was a great poet.
    In the mid 1990s she was writing a lot of poetry (prodigious), it was of very poor quality (awful), and her output and the awfulness both reached a peak (zenith).
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