Posted by: malcolmjamesjwells | 29/10/2014

The People’s Poet

In school I hated maths, science but loved writing. Over the ensuing years I have penned short stories, novels and poetry.
In my forties I took up a number of writing workshops to hone my skills – ‘Writing for children’, ‘Writing for TV’, Writing Comedy’, the list went on. I enjoyed the interaction with like-minded people, reading out my work and hearing others.
I joined a university poetry workshop with a dozen eager poets in the class. Our teacher was a learned and published professor.
For three weeks we sat attentively, learning the techniques of poetry writing, the different forms of verse. I found this part of the course rather tedious; it is my contention that poetry comes from the soul, not from a text book. Still, the second half of the evening was good; we would read out our work, listen to fellow poets and pat each other on the back.
My preference was for comic verse, always well received by my class mates, though the professor never passed comment. On the fourth week I recited a particular favourite of mine and it was well received.
Then the professor spoke. “What Malcolm writes is very amusing, but it is not real poetry. It is doggerel; populist verse that has no real value.”
The class went quite as the professor continued to denigrate my work before offering up one of his own poems to show us what real poetry was about. I was embarrassed and wished the desk would open its lid and swallow me.
Next week I walked into the class, asked if I could read out my latest work before class. Reluctantly the professor agreed. I stood in front of the class and read the poem:

I am the people’s poet;
I make my verses rhyme.
It’s easy when you knowet,
I do it all the thyme.

But even I get stuck sometimes,
and run out of idears.
So up into my bed I climes,
until inspiration appears.

I admit my grammar is not so hot,
and I torture my syntax a bit;
but I’m quite content with what I’ve got,
‘cos at least I make the words fit.

I did a poetry course for the rank amateur;
but I was totally lost from the start,
“What the hell is iambic pentameter?”
I thought poetry came from the heart.

Should I make it a terza rima?
a rondeau, or a villanelle?
Is it easier using free verse?
Will anyone be able to tell?

I think I’ll just do it my own way.
Technique is killing the muse.
Poetry is for all of the people,
the rhyme’s ours to use or abuse.

I laid the poem on his desk, walked out and never returned.

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