Archive for December, 2016

New Year cheer

December 30, 2016

A pair in a garden;
Sin God wouldn’t pardon.
So humans had gloom
Until death as their doom.
With just one small smidgen
Of joy, from religion,
Which decreed: ‘Go belabour
Your heathenish neighbour.’
Great empires arose,
And each one of those,
Whether Aztec or Greek,
Liked to slaughter the weak;
In turn each went ker-flop.
When the Romans were top,
The Christians appeared
(Who were sexually weird).
Long ages went Dark
And life wasn’t a lark.
The Renaissance was jolly,
But soon melancholy
Dark factories and mills
Bred new social ills.
Through centuries more
We’ve had misery and war
And depression and slump.
And now we’ve got Trump!

Cheerful best wishes for 2017!

Annie Fisher’s ‘Infinite in All Perfections’

December 12, 2016

infinite-in-all

The cover of Annie Fisher’s new Happenstance chapbook shows someone jumping for joy, and that’s more or less how you feel after reading it.
Many of the poems are anecdotes – the story of the girl who ran the sack race, but misunderstood the instructions and put the sack over her head:

Has she forgotten that hot afternoon?
The scratch and smell of a hessian sack,
speckled sunlight through rough rope weave,
surging voices, burning breath, the unseen crowd,
and a skinny brown-limbed girl
(must be a woman now)
all alone and leaping in the dark.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Statesman competitions

December 6, 2016

It’s a sad week for those who enjoy light verse and parody. The New Statesman has announced that it will no longer be setting Weekend Competitions. For over eighty years these comps have set a high standard for versifiers, wits and parodists, but now, apparently, there is not enough space in the magazine for a feature like this.

I doubt if I would be writing poetry today if it wasn’t for the New Statesman. As a young man I wrote rather intense verse; I knew what it meant, but most other readers would have found it puzzling. Certainly none of the editors I sent it to were interested. For a while I gave up writing poems.

I had always enjoyed the New Statesman competitions, though, and entered one that asked for one-liner jokes. One of mine was printed and I won a pound for it. I carried on, first with prose parodies, and then with verse  – which needed to be clear, funny and properly scanned. The first verse winner I had was this, from 1982; the setter asked for lyrical praise of some feature of the modern countryside: Read the rest of this entry »

December

December 1, 2016

Well, it’s been something of a rush, because I’ve been away on holiday, and have had to do most of the magazine-assembling today – but the December issue is now online.
And a very good issue it is, too.