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Thursday, November 27, 2008
Poetry and children
The position of Poet Laureate becomes vacant in May and, after a moment or two of soul-searching, I have decided not to apply. To those among my reader (sic) who may feel that my serious – if brief - contemplation smacks of excessive earnestness, I can only say 'keep reading'.
In a delightful consideration of several possible candidates, Mark Lawson writes in the Guardian
Sweating slightly under television lights, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Wendy Cope and Pam Ayres perform in turn a new sonnet while wearing T-shirts printed with the phone number we dial to vote for them. Raising with a flourish a card marked with the figure 4, Andrew Motion, the chief judge, has to raise his voice above the booing of the studio audience as he drawls: "Your second sestina last week was magic, Seamus. But though you won the Nobel, your sonnet rang no bells with me!"Oh to have someone of Larkin's 'character' among the candidates! I still remember thrilling to hearing one of Larkin's best know poems - 'This be the verse' - for the first time, recited by my son
They f*** you up, your mum and dad.You can read the full, unexpurgated version here. En passant, I think it would also be nice to consider the perceptive soul who wrote
An author had an asterisk;as a candidate. Mind you, when I think about it, I'm not quite sure how useful an asterisk might be in the bedroom; a bit like toast-crumbs, I'd have thought.
So who might we choose? Given Larkin's non-availability – he's dead - how about Roger McGough? Here's some of his work, very definitely in Larkin's vein. It's called 'Pay-back time'
O Lord, let me be a burden on my childrenThe poem concludes
It's been a blessing watching them developYou can read the full version here, at the bottom of the web page.
I write without apprehension; it's unlikely that my children will read this, so I'll make a point of emailing it to them. I want them to read it. I want to make sure the whippersnappers, and their children, have enough money saved up for when I need my Stannah stairlifts in all their houses - in sixty years or so.
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