save us all from bad poetry

Now this is clever, relevant, spot on really… thank you to Facebook sharer…


The ghost of a teacher considers this to be poetry with no illusion, other than the capacity to communicate a simple, powerful message with universal impact. It engages in a contemporary issue; persuades the student to explore history, politics, and ethics, rather than rhyme, metre or woolly metaphor; makes the reader think, rather than laboriously deconstruct pretentious and elitist wordplay apropos of absolutely nothing.

Not all poetry in schools is rubbish or irrelevant, but it is analysed as an end in itself, rather than the students encouraged to use it as the springboard to boundless possibilities. There is a right answer to be given, thus missing the whole flipping point of the necessary creative and unpredictable alchemy which the reader brings to the words. The irony is that the poets themselves would be appalled, harnessed as they currently are to the chickenshit whims of the thought-police…


I once read Attila the Stockbroker’s ‘Contributory Negligence’ to a class back in the 90’s. Twenty years later on Facebook an ex-student told me he had tracked down the book and requested it as his reward at the school prizegiving day that year… nice! I have since read this poem out every year, always with the barely restrained anger it demands. I no longer care whether it is my emotional response or Attila’s poetry that provokes a reaction. Does it matter? Through me his words flare back into life for a brief while and several little big bangs might have been triggered in parallel universes…


Another former student came to see me after 25 years. He now rides the bullet train to work at Nagoya University from his home in Tokyo, and is best known in academic circles for his “monograph on the first critical study of Romantic-era annotation or marginalia – footnotes, endnotes, glossaries – which formed a vital site of literary interaction…”​ I mean, WTF indeed! …but that is just fantastic!

Words: a catalyst to radical and creative thought… whatever next!!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s