What makes a poet a poet?
Is the writer supposed to just know it?
Or is it a matter of intellectual patter
-Does studying literature actually matter?
Is it OK to do it My Way¹,
Just scribbling ideas in idle wordplay?
Tinkering with language, a freedom indeed,
Well in advance of learning to read:
The songs and rhymes and playground games
The pulling and stretching of children’s names.
Except for mine, infinitesimally short,
The single syllable not enough to distort,
In turn an unspoken act of exclusion,
A lastingly blunting personal illusion
Until, decades later, I met just one person
Whom parents had also inflicted this curse on(!)
And, yes, I digress- though I’m wont to confess
The social anathema of my address,
Which by syllabic association
Wends toward my destination:
The seminal works of Hilaire Belloc²
A name in its time perhaps equal to mock
As that which was gifted unto me
By my father’s family…³
But I digress, as is my way,
Wittering idly away,
While tripping lightly down the page
Ideas competing for centre stage,
Coming from many a random source,
Some painfully slowly
And others with force,
Clamouring their views to air
In simultaneous rhyming pairs.
And so, by now, I’m sure you’ll see
My struggle with pomposity-
I cannot find it in my soul
To elevate my writing goal
Though sometimes idly fantasise
Applying for some literary prize.
Though can you imagine the ignominy
Of awarding someone so ordinary..?!
* inspired by Radio 4’s ‘Poetry Please’ (my sense of its ‘worthiness’ inherently uncomfortable…), my brother’s word-perfect performance of Belloc’s ‘Jim’ in his early teens for a school show, and dark memories of having imagination stripped away by English lessons in my own secondary schooling (from which, still marked, I have since recovered!)