Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A rattle-bag of items that could not be placed elsewhere

Workshop, 13th June 2017

Well, it’s nice to know that some things are still done properly.  I read recently that the Queen’s Speech will be delayed; not because Mrs May’s happy crew have only the faintest notion what to put in it (a bill to remove any mention of dinosaurs from the National Curriculum anyone?) but because, being hand-written on vellum, it takes some days for the ink to dry.  Apparently, the Q of E refuses to read anything not written on the stuff, which plays merry hell with the Palace Laser Printers and the production of the lunch menu.  As discussed in prev Blogs, a similar process is involved in the production of this very hifalutin diatribe, although one doubts that the Queen’s Speech will be knocked up on anything as unsophisticated as my early Macintosh 128k, which I use for anything requiring a nice uninterrupted run-up.  The Macintosh has no truck with the Internet, which does wonders for the concentration.  I’m sure you have found that it’s far too easy to think you have a long, complex document in the bag only to be distracted by a post on the Facebook or a Tweet from a beloved comedian.  As a result you find that you have committed some awful howler and are forced to book a national press conference to get yourself out of a hole.  It must have happened to all of us.

This week’s workshop was certainly not a hole, although it was a very popular sesh (and where were you?).  Pat Francis got things under way in a detailed fashion with a piece on the death of Lallans Gaelic.  Aisha Hassan brought us lovers become sea-serpents in a work that took shape upon the page.  John Cheung then refreshed our palates with a darkly comic Haiku on the subject of love and keeping quiet about it.  Peter Francis dug into the past of his father and his reluctantly-opened chest of oiled tools.  Martin Choules also reached for saws, hatchets and other blades to discuss the pros and cons of pollarding.  Owen Gallagher took to the floor and made a return to language to examine the outlawing of the Irish tongue.  John Hurley has been finding it hard to sleep and appreciating the early dawn as a result.  Daphne Gloag has also been appreciating time, in all its forms for the first poem in her new sequence.  Nick Barth brought us a work picturing mankind as passengers under the command of an autopilot.  Finally, Michael Harris capably juxtaposed the birthdays of a strange mix of personalities in an amusing piece inspired by a newspaper.

I am not entirely sure whether poetry and politics should be allowed to mix.  On the one hand, I have nothing against the ‘isn’t it all dreadful’ school of poetry as opposed to the ‘hello flowers, hello trees’ variety, as life can be dreadful whether one finds oneself stuck in a foxhole or mulling over the state of religion while reaching for an Irish sixpence.  The problem with politics is that it’s all very well for a chap to bemoan the current state of the nation and yearn for improvement but it’s dashed hard to outline a coherent set of policies, fully costed and reviewed by the Department of Budget Responsibility within a few lines, sticking to a snappy metre and keeping the rhyme scheme subtle.  It is not as if it has not been tried.  Ezra Pound had a passion for financial detail in his poetry, railing against bankers and usury with the frequent appearance of columns of numbers in the margins of his early drafts.  The irony of Pound mentoring TS Eliot, who actually was a banker, became starkly clear during a Tuesday night workshop at Pitshanger Manor.  Eliot pointed out to Pound that he had forgotten to carry the one in a compound interest calculation and the heated discussion resulted in Pound crossly departing the meeting, threatening to leave Britain to stay with his friend Benito in Italy, ‘where they invented this interest stuff’.  One wonders whether Ezra would not have been far happier with a nice job with a big bank in the City where his somewhat extremist views would not have seemed so unusual.  He could have kept his fascism to the Golf Club bar and made a lot more money without actually being declared insane.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

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Workshop, 30th May 2017

I wonder if you find yourself, like I do, upon retiring to your wing-backed reading chair, lifting the freshly-ironed broadsheet to the altitude of the aquiline nose and screwing up the marble-like blue ones, wondering who the blazes fiddled with the agenda to the extent that the movie reviews are where the news ought to be.  The truth is that these days reality resembles nothing so much as the plot-line of one of those horrendous action flicks, save for the notable lack of enhanced beings of a cocky nature flitting in and beating the bad guys to a welcome pulp.

It is against this appalling background of sheer appallingness that we may find some respite by making a return to language, to find a little inspiration in the mind of the poet.  Flicking through a snippet of MacNiece, a few verses of Rupert Brooke or even trundling down a length of Tennyson one can find relief in rhythm and wryness in rhyme, such than being blown to pieces by an anarchist with a black sphere marked with the word ‘bomb’ or being cut to the ground by a hail of pungent, synchronised rifle fire from antique weaponry sounds like the very epitome of nostalgia and brings a warm glow to the heart.

We at Pitshanger Poets are glad to continue promote the principles of the open exchange of ideas, freedom, good humour and companionship by gathering together in a slightly stuffy room once a week and reading each other’s fresh produce.  As poets we are not afraid to be witty, acerbic, critical, reflective, sympathetic, cruel, kind, conformist, anarchic and bloody-minded, though as I think we have all found by personal experience it’s a tall order to encompass all of the above in a three-act verse play in ballad form without finding a pal who will let you shack up in his house in Tuscany for a month and be happy to lay on the Chianti by the case.

I do not believe there was a pressing need for Chianti as we kicked off this week’s workshop.  Daphne Gloag made a stand for freedom by continuing her examination of Time with some musings on the beginning of the stuff.  Ann Furneaux fought against totalitarianism with a memory from her husband William of seeing a thousand aircraft sweeping towards Germany to give the Nazis something to think about.  Alan Chambers continued his contribution to free expression with part of a new trilogy utilising the power of the sea to evoke the arc of existence.  Owen Gallagher made a welcome return to the workshop after an extended trip around Asia with a dark memory of his father in Glasgow.  Michael Harris made an appeal to the free movement of people with a piece wondering why he still lives here in dirty old London.  Martin Choules cheered us all up with a short piece about tragic deaths in fiction.  Aisha Hassan brought us a very liberal, LGBT view of two rivers on two continents.  John Hurley has returned to the origins of Western Civilisation for his piece on illuminated manuscripts.  Finally, Nick Barth has attempted to work his way into the mind of the insurgent.

The question I find myself returning to is this; can poetry convey action, or is it the recourse of those attempting to describe a state of mind or rhetorical musing?  In a world of appalling appallingness, should the poet not focus on describing the bang and thud of events rather than the blue remembered lily pads?  Such a contrast occurred to me as I uncovered records of a certain David Herbert Lawrence making the long trip from Croyden to try out some of his early poetry at the Manor.  Lawrence was already gaining himself a reputation as a bit of a ladies’ man and one can imagine the scene as the young, slightly gauche hothead encountered a much more debonair and accomplished William Butler Yeats one Tuesday evening.  The antipathy was clearly mutual and according to the archive at one point they were asked to take their discussion on the relative approaches to language out of the dining room and into the parlour, where a jolly fire was burning.  Lawrence had expressed himself appalled at Yeates’ continued adherence to dreamy Pre-Raphaelite tropes and a heated debate developed. When the Workshop finished, the Chairman looked in on the Parlour, intending to invite the two argumentative poets to the Red Lion for a drink and a handshake.  Instead he found that the discussion had turned into a full-on brawl, with both men stripped to the waist, writhing on the hearthrug.  The Chairman swiftly closed the door and the Pitshanger Poets Archivist later related that she hoped that Lawrence would grow out of his earthier tendencies.  I am not sure such a thing would be easy to achieve.   If you have been, thank you for reading.

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Workshop, 25th April 2017

Well, thank goodness that’s over.  Why the human race continues to make such a hullaballoo over St George’s Day is beyond me.  I always breathe an inner sigh of relief, enjoying the return to normality as my Man begins the long task of rolling up the bunting, boxing up the inflatable dragon in the garden and packing away the commemorative tea set.  I remain bewildered by the stories I hear of people with the most tenuous claims on English descent crowding into the streets of some far-flung city to celebrate the famous saint and their nostalgic connections with the Old Country.  I hear that the City Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts had the Charles River dyed red, white and blue and that it was flavoured with Yorkshire Tea on the day itself.  Tea shops in Dublin were warned to expect rowdy crowds as so-called ‘plastic English’ swarmed the streets seeking fish and chips, scones, cucumber sandwiches and of course, gallons of the light brown stuff.  I do wonder how such affection for all things English came about, but when you see a jolly crowd of football enthusiasts enjoying a half-pint of lager outside a Public House it’s hard not to get caught up in their cheerful love for the fellow man, is there?

Speaking of bonhomie, this week’s Workshop was brim-full of the stuff.  Michael Harris was thinking about darkness, proper darkness, not this namby-pamby stuff we get in London and how much he used to enjoy it back home in rural Ireland.  Daphne Gloag is still thinking about time measured against great things, such as the giant sequoia she met in California.  Aisha Hassan was also thinking about time, stretching into a past in India and the kinds of breakfast she used to enjoy there.  Pat Francis is maintaining her thread, going back to her poetic roots, thinking of all the things she could create and coming up with a song.  Peter Francis was welcoming someone new into the world, even if it is a slightly old, tired world.  Nick Barth has been thinking about paper and its vulnerability.  Martin Choules has been taking a look at cities that are -cesters, not -chesters or mere -sters.  Alan Chambers brought a classic from the archive, opening his ears to the sound beneath the sound. Finally,  John Hurley believes that there should be more love, music and poetry in the world.

I have been putting my mind to the younger generation of poets this week.  It’s all too easy to knock the Youth of Today, to criticise their addiction to screens, their aversion to daylight and general lackadaisicalness.  The cry goes up; why can’t they be more like the young were in my day?  Why are they not reading improving verses?  Why are they not writing sonnets and heroic verse ballads?  Why are they not gathering in pubs and village halls, regaling each other with witty, barbed commentaries on the world of today to the music of pounding drums and shredding guitars?  Why, in short, are the older generation getting such an easy ride from the young?

Certainly, if you were to spend any time with my teenage nephew Hinckley (cruelly nicknamed ‘what is point?’ by his schoolmates) you might detect a certain gothic detachment, as he lies arrayed on his bed, the detritus of his homework strewn on the floor, pale, long-haired, blue-britchéd, wearing a frilly shirt.  It seems that Hinckley is not the sort of being to inspire a generation, to take up the cudgels of protest, to create a new generation of artists, to move things on.

Such a contrast to the hard-working, diligent Romantics, eh?  There was a group of poets fired by youth, happy to rip up the rule book and write their own while carefully disposing of their litter as they went.  They would respectfully raise two fingers to the fuddy-duddy traditions of their time while offering anyone who needed it a restorative glass of laudanum.  I heard that the Romantics regarded an obscure poet by the name of Thomas Chatterton as the flint which set a spark to their blue touch-paper, though references to him in the voluminous PP Archive are scant.  I did come across an episode in which a chap by the name of Chatterton was refused entry to a Workshop on the grounds that he was too young (he appeared to be seventeen at the time) and should be in his bed at this late hour.  Apparently, he was quite well-known in London and a prolific poet by then but mysteriously, he seems to have given up the pen soon after.  I do wonder if a few Tuesday Evenings at Pitshanger Manor would have provided him with the inspiration he needed to keep up his passion.  Ah, the vagaries of youth, eh?

If you have been, thank you for reading.

 

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Workshop, 18th April 2017

The Archives are fuller than usual of late with a recent delivery of boxes, crates and assorted tea chests full of papers unearthed during the restoration work at Pitzhanger Manor.  Much of it dates from “Sir” John’s time, and fascinating it is: one sheet instructs Mrs Conduitt to arrange for the iron boot-scraper to be cleaned and sharpened by a suitable local tradesman, while another appears to chart the complex and ever-changing liaisons of his Mattock Lane neighbours, and a third is a draft of an angry letter fired off the director of the Uxbridge Road Turnpike Trust for the delays his stagecoach had once again suffered on account of the ever-present workmen and navigators digging up the highway for their endless ‘drainage works’.

Fascinating though these snippets may be to the amateur local historian, one does wonder if they are ever dashed off with an eye to posterity – after all, why else have they survived intact these past two hundred years ?  Did Mr “Sir” Soane decide that rather than keep a diary as would any self-respecting gentleman of letters and intrigue, but rather leave his thoughts and gossipings to Providence via the note tacked on the pantry door ?  Or even the front door in the case of the slip addressed to the milkman requesting an extra pail that morning on account of ‘expecting cats’.

No laundry lists at this week’s workshop, but plenty of dazzling white pages.  James Priestman has been meditating on the Tower of Babel and the Camp of Dachau, and John Hurley paints a vivid picture of a woman clinging to a fire hearth to shut out the sounds of a dark and threatening sea.  Nayna Kumari imagines God (whoever that is) being very choosy about his (or her) next messiah, while new member Aisha Hassan has been imagining a nasty pile-up in a poem that was no car crash.  Daphne Gloag has been pondering the age old conundrum of where does all the time go, while poverty and well-meaning social reform have been keeping Pat Francis’ labouring hard, and Peter Francis has been getting metaphysical with his Seventeenth Century orbs and goats.  Martin Choules has been perturbed by a cuckoo being raised by a flywheel, while Alan Chambers’ has been looking for the autumn colours and ignoring the rotting mulch.

But getting back to the Pitzhanger Papers, why have they been dumped upon the Archive in the first place ?  Well, it seems that many of these posteritous pages relate to accounts of the weekly workshop, and a good many meetings that we suspected can finally be confirmed.  Were these records removed because they were too scandalous, or perhaps too boring ?  Reading through, the answer would rather appear to be that the host was too absent-minded to file his paperwork with any kind of system, a legacy whose aftermath we still have to battle daily at the Archives.  Many minutes are scribbled on the back of flyers for Mr Short’s improvable corsets or in the margins of broadsides aiming to Pithily Puncture the Presumptions of Mr Pitt.

However, one particularly revealing memorandum recounts a workshop in a much finer grain of detail than is usual, attempting to capture the spirit of genius verbatim:

J. Soane, esq:  Mr Byron, would you read your latest for us ?

Lord Byron:  That’s Lord Byron.

J. Soane, esq:  I do apologise, your Grace. Would you care to read ?

Lord Byron:  It’s not as if I’m one of your minor nobility jumped-up Johnnies.

J. Sloane, esq:  Pray forgive me, my lord. Please, we are agog with anticipation.

Lord Byron:  Right, pass these around.  My quill ran out, so a couple of you will have to share.  Honestly, it even says ‘Lord Byron’ at the foot of the handout.  Right, everyone got a copy ?

     (His lordship clears his throat)

Lord Byron:  “The cat / Sat on / The mat.”

     (There follows two minutes of silence)

P. Shelley, esq:  I like it, but I wonder if ‘cat’ is the best animal. Perhaps something more…canine ?

J, Keats, esq:  It might be a bit snappier if you left off the last line.

W. Wordsworth, esq:  Have you considered turning it into a sonnet ?

W. Blake esq:  I’d just like to point out that cats don’t actually sit, they kneel.

Miss A. Seward:  Well, I think it’s perfect as it is and wouldn’t change a thing.  Except the title.  And the full stop.

Fascinating stuff, although of course our workshops are nothing like that nowadays.

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Workshop, 11th April 2017

I enjoy a tidy, ordered life.  I always know where to find those small but vital attributes of everyday existence without which it would be unwise to venture forth from the abode; keys, wallet, sunglasses, straw boater, phone, my trusty catapult.  This is in no small part due to the endless care and attention of my man who has a rare talent; being able to find a thing without first saying ‘where did you have it last?’ or, ‘it’ll be in the last place you look for it.’  I have never understood why the penalties for uttering these futile phrases is not more severe. Even when capital punishment was in vogue it was still possible to offer such unhelpful advice (with or without the aid of sarcasm) and merely be transported to Australia for seven years, which is getting off a bit lightly if you ask me.

This week’s workshop was entirely lacking in futile phrases, every line a bon mot, every criticism constructive.  Doig Simmonds got us off to a great start with a new poem, a haunting observation of a victim of Parkinson’s disease.  The mood was changed dramatically by Pat Francis who has been practicing her rhyme and meter by writing a lullaby.  Peter Francis then took up the cudgels with a boyhood memory of the death of his father.  Daphne Gloag has been spending her time on Time and the rhythm of life.  Danuta Sotkin-Kondycki brought us something of a dramatic verse-play, imagining a newly-minted Adam complaining to a slightly careless God about his love-life.  Martin Choules told us  a story of the creatures of the brownfield site.  Gerry Goddin made a welcome return to the group, with a new guitar and a song about a girl equipped with machine-gun lips.  Ann Furneaux brought us an experience of mortality and fresh linen from hospital.  John Hurley wrapped the meeting up with an admirable portrait of a man who became admirable, Martin McGuinness.

For all my boasts of living a life of structure and order, the fact is the other day I could not lay my hands on my set of Waverley novels.  Those classic works of fiction were written by the great Sir Walter Scott and set in the Station which the burghers of Edinburgh had presciently built in 1814 in fervent anticipation of the arrival of the railway a mere twenty-eight years later. Scott was by all accounts a polymath, a renaissance man; not only a lawyer, a historian, collector of folk tales he was also a poet, novelist and very good at finding things.  For example, around the time he was getting into his stride as a novelist, he offered to locate the Scottish Honours, or crown jewels, which had been missing for a hundred years.  The Honours had been locked in a large wooden casket in Edinburgh Castle but were then thought to have then been removed and spirited away.  Scott and a team of military men opened the casket to find the jewels were where they should have been all along.  As men of dignity and resolve, they presented the unearthed treasures without once saying; ‘Ah told ye so’, or, ‘Who’d a thought it, eh?’ or even a ‘Did ye no’ think of looking in the last place ye ken’t it was?’  Any gentle sarcasm was saved for the 80 Shilling session in the Malt Shovel later that evening.

As a result of this heroic escapade Sir Walter found himself a big deal in the finding things business.  He became a vital adjunct to His Majesty’s Government, largely because George the Third reputedly had a talent for losing his possessions.  It is said that this habit began when he lost the American Colonies, which is surely a little cruel.  However, rather a more worrying trend for an absent-minded monarch (nick named ‘Farmer George’ for his attraction to worldly affairs) was the increasing part high finance was playing in the workings of his nation.  The expense of fighting wars was met by a National Debt, which needed a Bank and an impressive building to house it in.   Our very own Sir John Soane was employed to construct the edifice, which leads us to the one time Sir Walter Scott and he met at Pitshanger Manor.   The young Scott arrived at the Manor looking forward to a lively evening but instead found Sir John in somewhat of a tizzy.  He had taken charge of one of the keys to the Bank of England, a symbolically huge thing over three feet in length.  He had then mislaid it and it was looking like he would be in no mood to host a poetry workshop until it was found and King George could regain access to the public debt.  Scott ascertained the gravity of the situation and headed directly to the fine lobby of the Manor.  There, hanging on one of a row of hooks by the front door was the Bank of England key.  Scott handed it to a grateful Soane with barely a word, ensuring the Government could finance another war and the senseless waste of human life could continue.  Britain never forgot about the young man with a talent for the written word and looking in the right place, and memorialised him after his death with a hugely gloomy edifice in Edinburgh which is very difficult to miss.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

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Workshop, 28th March 2017

It has been a while since I last gave my loyal readership an update on work at Pitshanger Manor.  Work on the Pitshager Poets’ alma mater continues apace though thankfully the house is no longer being pulled down so much as being put up again.  The Victorian ‘infill’ has been demolished and stonemasons are working on restoring Sir John Soane’s classical colonnade.  The Council’s Project Manager, Sue Smeed tells me I am always welcome to visit the workings and always seems pleased to see me, although more than once I have come across her seemingly hiding in a cupboard or behind a door when I arrive.  I can quite understand that she must need to make a lot of phone calls and that privacy is important, nevertheless it appears she can be quite challenging to locate when I am in the neighbourhood.

The last tranche of heavy earthworks uncovered foundations of the older, former Pitshanger Manor.  As you are no doubt tired of hearing, the origins of Ealing’s premier poetry workshop are lost in the mists of time and are at a severe risk of becoming mythologised by irresponsible bloggers.  Be that as it may, records of visitors to the Tuesday meetings were diligently preserved, and this week I repaired to the Archive to locate the visits of any notorious poetic grandees from the distant days of the eighteenth century.  The house was owned from the mid 18th Century by Thomas Gurnell, son of a wealthy banker and a man who enjoyed the company of the great and the good.

Speaking of the great and the good, this weeks’ Workshop was another packed affair (and where were you?).  Martin Choules took an early lead, musing on what Daedalus has said to every airman since Icarus.  Michael Harris bemused us all with a piece twinning parks Mullyash and Hyde with a single sad event.  Peter Francis took a turn around the garden in a speculative attempt to discover how he uses words.  Pat Francis recalled a racy visit to a museum in a city a long time ago in a country far, far away.  Caroline Am Bergris made a welcome return to the group with a poem that nonetheless fails all attempts at adequate description.  John Hurley recalled seeing a young lad in happier times.  Katie Thornton brought us a remarkable first-person piece describing a woman scorned.  Olwyn Grimshaw is sure she needs a new computer; however her repair man has a different opinion.  Daphne Gloag brought us something experimental written for another workshop, which work we very much hope she continues.  Nayna Kumari is working on a series of poems on ‘difficult people’ and this weeks’ was an acute observation of the sort of man who operates more on transmit than receive.  James Priestman has been channelling the Bible according to Hamlet, as spoken to Horatio.  Finally, Nick Barth rounded off with a poem about not being able to write a poem, but nobody seemed to mind.

Rustling through the illustrious pages of the Archive my eye was suddenly caught, not by the name of a poet but an artist.  It seems that Thomas Gainsbrough was more than once a guest at Pitshanger Manor on his way to exhibit his work at the Royal Academy.  Gainsborough has of course been in the news recently due to a dreadful act of vandalism carried out upon one of his most famous portraits, The Morning Walk.   Much was made in these reports of Gainsborough’s decision to switch from landscapes to portraiture, and of course the hacks of the fourth estate assumed the reason was all to do with filthy lucre, portraits of nobs and their duchesses paying much more than trees and hills, however airy the brushwork.  Studying the Archive, I was struck by an incident which contradicts this theory.  It appears that Thomas Gurnell had invited Gainsborough to spend a few days on the estate on his way to London to take in the parkland and maybe knock up a few landscapes for the Royal Academy.  Gurnell was good enough to lay on some materials and had a stack of canvasses delivered for the purpose.  However when Gainsborough inspected the canvasses he found that they were all Portrait rather than Landscape, a technical nicety having apparently escaped the art material suppliers.  Stuck with the wrong aspect ratio Gainsborough was forced to paint portraits for the duration of his stay and found that he preferred the new medium.  History, once again, being made in Ealing.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

 

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Workshop, 22nd November 2106

“Words, words, words”, as the Danish Prince so pithily put it before tearing the Lord Polonius off yet another strip.  Words are our baggage, our currency and our legacy.  The English language is stuffed with words like some sort of alphabetised Chesterfield sofa, while other tongues get by with a narrow Chaise Longue or spindly Mies van der Rohe chair to settle back on when they want things to make sense.  Is it any wonder the world rushes to learn English, considering how many words we have to choose from?  Thank goodness the English no longer own their own language or who knows how we might conspire to ruin it.  Enough! I hear you cry.  Break off this interminable preamble and get to the point.  In which case I will.  It has not escaped my notice that this is the time of year when The Dictionary Industry of the English Speaking World likes to corral an annual crop (is it possible to corral a crop?  What would work better? Harvest a herd?  Wrangle a regiment?) of neologisms.  Now, there’s a word that must have sent ruddy-faced Colonels to their blotters to dash off a flamer to The Times.  Why the devil do we need a word for new words?  Piffle!  Yours, Apoplectic of Andover (Mrs).

Any new words appearing in this week’s Workshop were handled in the traditional and time-honoured way; humanely netted, delicately stunned, they were then pinned to a green baize board alongside a small hand-written paper label.  Daphne Gloag does not always approve of neologisms but is always inventive in her use of words, as in this evening’s Tintorreto-inspired examination of Christmas Journeys.  David Hovatter was not one to discourage new words as he traced the journey from fish hook to sushi.  Jagdish applied a new meaning or two to old words as he told us about a potted plant at prayer.  Pat Francis played with words and form as she contrasted two views of fate.  Alan Chambers returned us to fish, lines and nets with another contrast- this time of two farms in a sea Loch.  Danuta Sotnik-Kondyck is embracing the English language with a poem about wolves she translated from a piece she originally composed in her native Polish.  Peter Francis chose some disturbing words for his imagined evidence to a truth and reconciliation commission.  John Hurley rendered extraordinary ideas to paper as he imagined an Irish President’s introduction to a President Elect. Nick Barth brought us a stranded astronaut, hearing words from the ether.  Martin Choules has not got anything to say, but he chose some great words to say it.  Finally, Ariadne Kazantzis pictured an alien learning English in order to teach young Anthony a few things about our planet.

I am sure you will be familiar with the more headline-grabbing neologisms of 2016.  Brexit has followed the increasingly unfamiliar Grexit and foreshadows the hypothetically water-logged Nexit.  The alt-right have caused many people to become trumpatised following a momentous event of some moment over the pond.  The OED now recognises moobs, whether or not they are scrumdiddlyumptiousSlacktivism is joining clicktivism in replacing activism, or the messy and exhausting process of painting banners and catching agoraphobia in the company of hordes of unruly strangers.  The now over-familiar mamil is being supplanted by the much more attractive spandexual, often on individuals who are beardtastic.

Which rampant hashtaggery brings me to the word which The Pitshanger Poets will strive to bring to popular usage in 2017, if only because we strongly advocate its application in this world of chronocide (the killing of time), via wexting (walking while texting) and linkulitus (the habitual sending of web links to others).  The word is unliterate, meaning a person who knows how to read but staunchly refuses to do so.

If you have been on this occasion, thank you for doing so.

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