Thursday, 31 October 2013

How to get rid of trendy left-wing sociologists

Dear Colonel Sixty-Biff,

I refer to your recent letter to the Daily Telegraph.  

I have got a plan to help you to get rid of all the trendy left-wing sociologists in your letter.  I have thought the plan up myself but am doing it on Uncle Mark's typewriter.  About three miles from our house there is a bit where the road comes down to the river and it comes to a dead end.  If you say you are having a protest march all the trendy sociologists will want to come with you, and when you get to the river you can stand to one side and they will all walk over the edge.

Best wishes

Sonia Bingham (age 9)

The  above composition made its first public appearance in UCAS 12: Upper Class Action Sussex bulletin 12, a spoof broadside that I distributed, with the help of the accomplice who typed it, in the refectory at Sussex University on 1 April 1981.  I may blog other UCAS passages if the mood takes me.

I met the accomplice again in April 2012, at her father's funeral.  She had no recollection of the escapade!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Even without a great blow

This is a new poem -- written for a Poem Pigeon competition on the theme of autumn.


"Dark November nights!" I said,
too eagerly too often,
as I anticipated
in the year I was seven
nights as they'd been, November
of the year before,
the first when year was number,
month name. I remembered fire,
headlights, clouds, coke stove, sparklers.
Written recall of childhood
memories, having less loss
than mine in the writer's head,
and set forth with greater skill,
makes old autumns evergreen.
Nostalgia I first felt at school.
It's something I've since outgrown.

Entry in Poem Pigeon competitions is by posting on the Poem Pigeon site.  In other words, a poem entered there is automatically a published poem.  Most poetry competitions, meanwhile, continue to favour a set of rules in which entry is anonymous and published work is ineligible.  But the 'entry by web publication' model is one I've encountered increasingly often -- in the 2012 English National Opera Mini-Operas contest, for example -- and it'll be interesting to see how these two systems co-exist.  

And what effect will the growth of the web-entry model have on my output and on this blog?  Much of my poetry is unashamedly written for competitions, and my rule is to blog only poems that have achieved publication.  The web-entry model will let me blog poems much closer to the time of writing than I have often done.  

The anon-unpublished-entry model, on the other hand, has some effect of quality control.  For this blog, that effect is limited.  Some of the poems I've accounted as published (and therefore bloggable) have been self-published, or published in outlets where I was a member of the editorial team.  I'm not a member of any editorial teams at the moment; will Poem Pigeon take their place?

I have no quarrel with the winning poem in the Autumn competition, 'Autumnal wish' by Deborah Kellogg.  It's a good 'un.  What do you think?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What darkness can do

This is a new poem, written for the Paragram Poetry Competition.  In 2013, this competition took as its theme the Emily Dickinson quotation "a slant of light".

Follow the links for the competition shortlist, which my poem just missed, and the winners

The poem describes something I remember from childhood, but my brother Hugh says he has no recollection of it.


Aged six and five, we struggled to ignore
the shape at night light up the cupboard door,
upright with overhang. Then having seen it,
and dared to speak of it, we dared demean it,
called it the Rude Ghost's House, defying fright.
In fact it was all curtain and street light.
I can recall no learning of that, no
relief in finding it a shadow show,
but till I came to be indifferent,
seeing the light I would dislike, resent.