Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Just wandering...

This Saturday I'll be joining fellow Wirral poets on a trip to mob the Wenlock Poetry Festival.

It's ok - we're in the programme. We're being egged on (as ever) by the ebullient John Gorman (he of Scaffold and Tiswas fame), who would have poets in odd socks on every corner if he could.

I've 'done' Oxton Secret Gardens' (right) a couple of times - where poets leap out from the rhododendrons at unsuspecting garden-lovers. After I had one irate chap going on at me for '...coming in here with your sonnetts and your villanelles and messing up the geraniums...' (I'm paraphrasing) I'm probably not doing that one this year, because here's the thing: Not everyone (whisper it) likes poetry.

Much Wenlock is different. It's a poetry festival, see - they'll be expecting poems and that's what they'll get! Last year they had a groovy giant knitted poem, sculptures made out of books and a Poet Tree where you hung your smaller works.

But without that context, I confess I'm wary of spouting in the streets. (Apart from that time, giddy from the Glam Slam in my 2nd Most Glamourous Poet in Liverpool' sash, I did an impromptu recitation on the platform of Central Station, Liverpool.)

Faced with a clerihew or sestina, some people will quite literally run away (except the captive audience in the queue of Much Wenlock's famous butcher shop, who don't want to lose their place and will suffer anything). And if everyone involved doesn't do their best, most accessible poems, won't it just confirm people's worst opinions of poetry? Doesn't it then become the opposite of evangelism?

What do you think? Would you be delighted or provoked to mindless violence if you were accosted by a poet in the street?


  1. I don't think my violence has ever been mindless.

  2. If they messed with my Geraniums
    I'd belt them on the Craniums
    And tell them with a Bow
    "Wirrall Poets Now"

  3. I wouldn't overreact, as long as they were more than a meter away.

  4. I would love it.. and fab to corner people whilst they wait in line!

  5. Dave - You've clearly never been accosted by a poet!

    Roger - Mama, Wirrall poets now! Love it! Oooh... and a secret Roger... who are you?

    Martin - I know, I should be keeping rhyme off the streets

    Clare (and Gary - who rhymes with Barry, but don't tell him - he'd be embarrassed) - I suspect you are in the minority but it's nice to know you're out there!

  6. Blimey, what are clerihews and sestinas? I would probably run away if I was approached by a poet in the street. But if you told me that you weren't a mentalist, I would probably stay and listen.

    Have fun! Let us know how it goes.

  7. I am Rog, I'm not secret

  8. Might be shocking to be confronted by a clerihew while admiring a geranium. Had to look that one up, and, of course, wikipedia obliged with this by Edmund Clerihew Bentley.

    Sir Christopher Wren
    Went to dine with some men
    He said, "If anyone calls,
    Say I'm designing Saint Paul's."

    I'm wondering why the form is named after his middle name, though. Was Bentley already taken for automotive use at the time?

    Hope you have a grand day tomorrow (or actually it's already Saturday your way, as I write, innit?)

  9. Annie - They're verse forms - some of which get so complicated they're more of a puzzle than a poem (probably invented by men in the days before sudoku)

    Rog - Well why were you a secret Rog before but now I can see who you are... I know a couple of Rogers.. you can't be too careful with a Roger.

    Rainy - I didn't know exactly what they were but like the names!

  10. When's Werelock? Er, sorry. Where's Wenlock?

    Actually that was just an excuse for a poor spoonerism, sorry, as you were.