Sometimes I forget that poets and poems can be fun, not in the adult sense of enjoyment or humor but in the child’s sense of the sheer joy of it all.
Roger McGough reminded me.
I was reading his book As Far As I Know, published last year. The poems were serious, although I’d see an occasional veer to what sounded like fun. Then I read “Deadpan Delivery”:
I was popping a few frozen
fugu fish fingers under the grill
when there came a loud knocking.
Quickly donning my clown costume
I opened the door.
It was the Deadpan Man with a delivery.
‘Have I got to sign for this?’ I asked.
‘No, I’m not hard of hearing, ’
he quipped, deadpan.
That’s followed by a poem entitled “Indefinite Definitions.” Do you know what a skew is? “A skew is a seabird / With wings of different sizes / So that when it tries to float / it invariably capsizes.”
What is this?
I stumbled into a virtual poetry store called Roger McGough, and I’m having a great time.
McGough is a bundle of some wildly different things. In 1997, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) for his services to poetry, and he’s been called a “trickster you can trust.” He’s won poetry awards and children’s poetry awards. He’s recorded a considerable number of his poems on CDs, and his poetry is increasingly popular in schools. He’s published nine books of poetry for adults and 14 for children. He’s the host and sometimes performer for the BBC 4 radio program “Poetry Please” and president of the Poetry Society.
And he helped write much of the humorous dialogue for the movie “Yellow Submarine” for the Beatles. In 1967, he and two other poets published The Mersey Sound, an anthology of their poems, which sold more than 500, 000 copies, While the connection to the Beatles probably didn’t hurt, who’s heard of any poetry book selling 500, 000 copies?
His poetry is full of surprise; in As Far As I Know, most poems end with a surprising twist of some kind. I especially liked “The Wallet, ” a three-part poem about a lost wallet, told from the perspectives of the three people involved. A surprise is embedded here, too, because nothing is exactly what it seems.
McGough is inspired by tomatoes, a strike on the London Underground, the surrealists, poems by other poets, windows, a walk on a hill—diverse, yet all accessible and engaging.
These poems are sometimes quiet and sometimes exuberant. But always fun.
We’ll make your Saturdays happy with a regular delivery of the best in poetry and poetic things.
Need a little convincing? Enjoy a free sample.
- Poets and Poems: Paul Willis and “Somewhere to Follow” - July 13, 2021
- Poets and Poems: Claude McKay and “Harlem Shadows” - July 6, 2021
- Poets and Poems: Dan Rattelle and “The Commonwealth” - June 29, 2021