I have to begin this week with an apology. From time to time I like to think of the many loyal Pitshanger devotees out there in the Blogosphere, as Charles Babbage used to insist on calling it. I envisage these fanatics hanging on to my every word, people for whom each glimpse behind the velvet curtain at the fascinating world of the jobbing poet is the shining highlight of their week. Usually such ego-fluffing thoughts are isolated to those rare occasions when I am in my cups or struck down by some feverish malady and have only the feeblest grasp on reality. However, even when reason is restored to her seat I reassure myself that someone must be reading this, for otherwise what in the name of all that is wholesome and one of your five a day would be the point in writing it?
The truth and nub of the butter is that, adjustments for British Summer Time aside, this week’s column is late, et je suis desole. By rights you should be reading this on a Wednesday, but it is now, my man assures me, what hardworking British families call Thursday and you are not yet chuckling inwardly or facing the world anew, scales having fallen from your eye. The reason for this lapse in our normal Service Level Agreement is simple; I noted in my copy of the Sydney Morning Herald, a newspaper I read for the barbeque recipes and metal ore prices, that another habitué of the Pitshanger Poets has caused a paving stone to be engraved and laid in Westminster Abbey. I realised I had to hot-foot it to the hallowed nave and Poet’s Corner before corresponding with my adoring public.
Given the Pitshanger Poets’ illustrious history, it would not be unreasonable to expect one of tonight’s workshop to figure in the Abbey’s South Transept. John Hurley, for his lyrical poetry, tonight giving varied perspectives on a sleepless night. Or Daphne Gloag, for once again exploring the possibilities of a Universe headed towards a ‘big crunch’. Owen Gallagher’s star is in the ascendant, having just published a new collection, and tonight gave us a poem missing Roy Rogers in Glasgow. Nick Barth could perhaps be seen leering from a niche for his impressions of Duchamp’s Rotary Demisphere. Alan Chambers should qualify for approbation for tonight’s mysterious impression of the North Pole alone. Marilyn Keenan deserves to be recognised for her remarkable word-picture of a fish on a slab. Finally, the consistently excellent Martin Choules’ portrait of an abbey should earn a slab, well, in an abbey.
Some frightful modern commentators have suggested that misogyny, closet racism and serial womanising would appear to be qualifications for a paving stone in Poet’s Corner, given the appointment of the Hull Librarian to that honour, but I say no, no, no, for this one-dimensional portrait is to ignore the joy he brought to so many with his heretofore overlooked traveling children’s entertainment show, Larkin About.
Alas and alack, having thoroughly enjoyed an superb evening in the company of the current crop of Pitshanger Poets, I am afraid none of them would qualify for a slab in the famed Corner, for one simple reason, and that is because none of them are dead. I for one have never heard of a dead poet producing any enjoyable work, with the possible exception of Emily Dickinson. If you have been, thank you for reading.