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  #1  
Unread 03-03-2021, 04:51 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi folks,

I have a poem in a new anthology, Poems For The Year 2020: Eighty Poets On The Pandemic, edited by Merryn Williams. Annie Drysdale is in here too! The poem appeared on the Sphere in the spring of last year (it's about walking along a canal), so thanks to anyone who helped knock it into shape.

https://www.waterstones.com/book/poe.../9781912524907

I haven't received my contributors copies yet (I get 2 for a fiver!) but I know there was a bit of chat here recently about the middle-class smugness of some of the recent deluge of lockdown poems. I kept shtum, knowing this was in the offing. I'm sure Merryn, staunchly left-wing and editor of Poems for Jeremy Corbyn (along with much else), will have chosen poems that go beyond general ennui and complaints about having finished everything on Netflix.

Cheers!

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-03-2021 at 06:12 AM.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 11:51 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Congrats, Mark and Annie!

LOL, Mark, I did wonder why you hadn't chimed in with your usual dose of reasonable pushback in a few of those conversations. Mystery solved!

We poets do tend to cluster demographically on the older and more financially secure side, and we tend to write with readers similar to ourselves in mind. So there is unavoidably more poetic testimony from that quarter in most magazines and anthologies, regardless of the topic.

I do think poets should try to be cognizant of our personal and collective blind spots, but not to the point that we stop testifying about our own realities.

I remember various iterations of the canal poem, and I look forward to admiring the final version.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 12:34 PM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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I must admit I'd had a few misgivings. Merryn is a friend and fellow-Corbynista; she asked me for a poem and I sent her a tentative few of the many I've written during lockdown and about which I'm still unsure. Are they testaments of my own reality or the ravings of a madwoman after twelve months' solitary confinement? How far up myself had I gone to find them?

Merryn picked one. Then she got in touch and asked if she could swap it for a squib I'd put on Facebook, because it had made her laugh. It was only recently, when I went to remind myself of it, that I realised I didn't have a copy because I'd typed it straight onto the screen and forgotten about it. I hope it makes others laugh, too.

I haven't read the collection yet. It is in quarantine. But I will. Soon.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 12:55 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Yay, well done Mark and Annie!
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Unread 03-04-2021, 01:09 PM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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Congratulations Mark and Ann!

(I'm not massively fond of lockdown poetry tbh, but think Julie's point is a sound one).

I think it's very difficult to write well mid-event, too. I read Ellen Bryant Voight's Kyrie at the start of the pandemic, on recommendation - it stopped me in my tracks, but I don't think it could have been written during the flu pandemic. It's a book of sonnets that gives a voice to individual and family stories - a testament to the individual and collective devastation of the flu.

Mid-pandemic stories might be different - and of course first-person in this case- and it'll be interesting to find out.

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 03-04-2021, 03:32 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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Well done, Annie and Mark! Two poems I'd love to read...

Cally
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Unread 03-05-2021, 06:42 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Hey, Mark, that's great. Congrats! And to Annie too! (I do remember the poem, with a cameo by Elvis if I'm not mistaken?)
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Unread 03-05-2021, 08:00 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Great poem, Mark.

Nemo
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Unread 03-05-2021, 08:17 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Thanks folks!

My copy arrived this morning. Annie's poem is bitterly funny. About Boris Johnson's decision to allow horse racing to go ahead early in the pandemic.
I understand the arguments, but I don't really see the objection to 'lockdown poetry', myself, though I haven't written much. Of course, it sounds annoying if you give it a name like that, but it's just poetry acknowledging and responding to the changed circumstances of the world. It can be done well or badly like poetry on any subject matter. There. That's my "dose of reasonable pushback" (I love that, Julie! ha)

Yes, Andrew, it's the one with Elvis in it. And Philip Larkin and the Queen Mother. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post it here...

Edit: I've taken an executive decision that I can. People link to stuff here do they not? I can't do that because it's print and I'm too technically inept to link to a photo of the thing so...here it is. Imagine page 54 at the bottom, if that helps...


First Walk Out Along Caldon Canal


I thought it might look changed, but it's the same
old fallen world out here — the shifting sky
keeps shifting, thick with rain. We play a game
along the bank — that people passing by
are dead celebrities, pale ghosts of fame.
There’s Elvis, see? Off to the shop to buy
essential peanut butter
(who could blame
the King for this indulgence now? Not I).

A drone flies by. You shiver, button your coat
and check your watch, anxious about the rules,
the news, the air. Three ducklings weave and float
through scum and leaves, the oily rainbow pools
that gather by the locks. A moored canal boat
creaks and rocks. Queen Mum's inside! Right fools
she thinks we are.
The past seems so remote.
She's swigging gin and rattling her jewels.

And look! There's Philip Larkin in his mac!
Swaggering along with a stick, content at last,
no social calls to make, no books to stack.

I take your hand. The sky is overcast
and the world is trying to shake us off its back.
It's time we went. And suddenly the past
is clamouring with countless dead, and black
and empty space ahead — still and vast.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-05-2021 at 09:53 AM.
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Unread 03-05-2021, 09:54 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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You absolutely nailed it, Mark. Well done. The cocktail of whimsy and reality is so much more potent than drinking them separately would have been.
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