THE SINGING SCHOOL by Barry Tebb
The Poetry School, The Poetry Book Society, The Poetry Business:
So much poetry about you’d think I’d want to shout, “Hurray, hurray,
Every day’s Poetry Day!” but I don’t and you don’t either-
You know its flim-flam on the ether, grants for Jack-the-lads
Of both sexes, poets who’ve never been seen in a little magazine
Then gone on to win the Oopla Prize and made baroque architecture
The subject of an O.U. lecture.
Seventy five pounds for a seminar on sensitivity in verse;
A hundred and fifty for an infinitely worse whole weekend of
‘Steps towards a personal fiction in post-modern diction’;
And the inevitable course anthology, eight pounds for eleven
Nameless poets Pascale Petit and Mimi Kahlvati carefully selected
From, well honestly! Who cares? God only knows how banal they’re
Bound to be. Budding Roddy Lumsdens, (Has anyone read a Roddy
Poem?) “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” his first collection short-listed here and
The sheer hype’s enough to put me off for life.
I still write at bus-stops and avoid competitions like the plague.
I’m not lucky that way, I’ve still to win a single literary prize.
Is there one for every day of the year? And as for James Kirkup,
My mentor of forty-odd years, his name evokes blank stares; but
Look him up in ‘Who’s Who’, countless OUP collections, the best-
Version of Valйry’s ‘Cimetiиre Marin’, translations from eleven
Including Vietnamese. Is there nothing Jamie can do to please?
I help one poet to write and one to stay alive;
Please God help poor poets thrive.