Like the vast majority of qualified poets I take the obligations of being a Loyal Subject of Her Majesty’s Constitutional Monarchy (TM) most seriously. Not only am I guaranteed to hie myself off to the local Polling Station on the designated Thursday with a freshly-sharpened pencil, rubber (in case of mistakes) and WH Auden’s Longer Poems (in case of long queues), I also read each Party Manifesto as it is published so that you, dear reader, in the words of Flash Bathroom Cleaner, don’t have to. And what a read! Having consumed all of them I feel refreshed and invigorated, in the way that only a man who has decided to stop pounding his forehead on a brick wall can feel refreshed and invigorated. Fascinating though each and every glossy page was, I could not have completed the task without my man on hand to administer Adrenaline, Diazepam, a sympathetic shoulder to cry on or the Heimlich Manoeuvre, depending upon the Party and the specific commitment I happened to be reading.
This week’s Workshop required none of these aids, though as always, a little lubrication from the very reasonably-priced Grapevine Bar could not hurt. Proceedings were initiated by Martin Choules (conversational) who spoke movingly in the subject of what he would have been like with a different name. Peter Francis (laborious) was then permitted a heart-felt lengthy intervention on the subject of a massacre in Eastern Europe. Owen Gallager, member for The Gorballs delivered a short appeal for free whisky for tenement dwellers. John Hurley (social) told us all how he is feeling today. Gillian Spragg (green, with a floral print) proposed that we examine intimations of mortality. Alan Chambers, (Father of the House), gave us a second reading of his description of events upon a causeway. Nayna Kumari related disturbing events from her constituency in a powerful piece. Daphne Gloag appealed for more time in her beautifully crafted short poem. Finally, Deputy Speaker Nick Barth directed our attention to the high cost of war.
So where, I hear you ask, should I as a qualified poet be aiming the trembling pencil come Election Day? What’s in it for poetry? I have to say I am disappointed. Despite many hours on my part dictating personally-addressed letters to the Party Leaders in My Man’s best handwriting, my deep investigation of their policies has revealed that once again the powerful Poetry Lobby has been ignored. Chief amongst my do have a number of ideas but chief amongst them is demarcation. To my mind the skilled writing labour market needs a complete shake-up. There are far too many novelists, playwrights, stand-up comedians, musicians and meteorologists writing poetry, stealing the bread from our tables, as it were, with their celebrity, entertaining writing and annoying ability to get their books displayed near the entrance at Waterstone’s. It just won’t do, and unless something is done about it we, the Poetry Community will be forced to take action. I just wonder how long the so-called establishment thinks the country will last without a ready supply of Slim Volume and Poetry Magazine material. Ha! I say, soon, brothers and sisters we will see Dave Cameroon, Nick Leg, Steve Miller Band, Nigel Mirage and Nicola’s sturgeon beating a path to our door and acceding to our demands. One out, all out and mind your backs! See you by the braziers on the picket Lines with a nice jacket potato or two and a copy of Griff Rhys Jones’ ‘The Nation’s Favourite Comic Verse’ to raise our spirits. If you have been, thank you for reading.