We began this week at Poetry24 with ‘Morrissey’ by David Mellor, an intensely personal and affectionate response to the suggestion made Andrew Harrison of The Guardian that the singer’s ‘light’ may have finally flickered out. I am not a great fan myself but I must say I found the tone of Harrison’s piece unnecessarily waspish and David’s poem, by contrast, honest, open-hearted and affecting. On balance, it seems to me that anyone who devotes a lifetime to the arts in general and one area of creativity in particular is more than entitled to hit a rough patch here and there. Therefore, Mr Harrison, if you can’t say anything nice, did you need to say anything at all?
On Tuesday it was the turn of Luigi Pagano, another of our regular contributors, who gave us ‘The Call’. On the surface this is a playful little piece about dolphins and their ‘signature whistles’ but there is, I feel, an underlying message for humanity on related the subjects of communication and the valuing of our individual uniqueness. It is ‘sensible’ to ‘keep in touch/ and the effort required isn’t too much.’
Moving on to Wednesday, Wendy Nicholson gave us ‘Liquid Magic’. Scientists in Bristol have devised a means of using urine to charge a mobile phone, ‘a secret essence/ to succour gnarled roots/ and seeds/ liquid magic/ activates the chain’. What a contrast, though, on Thursday with Steve Pottinger’s ‘Bongo Bongo bad’, a lively, political piece which attracted much favourable comment. I make no apology for reproducing in its entirety the following most pertinent stanza. Thanks, Steve, for allowing us to publish this poem. Clearly, among our readers at least, you touched on a nerve.
‘But don’t ever think to begin to ask why
the rich get ever richer while the poor can’t get by
could it be something to do with dividing the pie?
Don’t bother your head with that. Blame the Bongo Bongos.’
On Friday, the mood was different again. We chose Ian Whitely’s powerful and heart-rending poem ‘Daniel in the Hyena’s Den’ with its challenging closing lines:
‘pity etches scars
upon a tiny coffin
we should remember
and, as a nation, mourn him
we, who could not protect
from the clutches
This poem has a particular and personal impact for me since, almost fifty years ago, my parents, experienced foster parents with many years of experience behind them, were on the brink of adopting a little girl whom they had been caring for almost since her birth. Almost at the last moment, their plans came to nothing when the child was suddenly withdrawn from their care and returned to her mother. It was not, however, until many weeks later that we learned that she had died and that the inquest recorded the presence of multiple wounds and bruises. How it saddens me to be reminded that, since that heartbreak, so little has changed. Thank you, Ian, for giving expression to what so many of our readers must be feeling.
Finally, on Saturday, we come to Philip Johnson’s ‘Cuts’ which is another strong and outspoken piece. It comes on a day when a friend of mine included the following in her Facebook status:
‘What has happened to my country? Don't get old, don't get sick and don't be poor.’
My thanks to Viv Tott for that and sincere thanks, too, to Philip who asks the question ‘where are the lifeboats the doctors and nurses’.
All in all, it’s been a strong week, I think. Please keep those submissions coming. Thanks to those people who have sent messages of sympathy over the loss of my beautiful dog, Sadie.