Thursday, 7 October 2021

A couple of poems for National Poetry Day 2021

To celebrate National Poetry Day we are sharing a couple of poems with you.

The first, 'Tending his memory' is written by our very own Colin Watts.  Colin, was born in Staines to the sound of doodlebugs overshooting London. He trained as a town planner, but turned to community development and training in the early 1970's and adult education thereafter. Since then, he has been stepping from one ladder to the next, in a Liverpool career spanning over thirty years.  To read more of Colin's poetry you can visit his website by clicking here.

TENDING HIS MEMORY by Colin Watts

He liked a good English apple, did my father.
When he died, we planted James Grieve, Blenheim Orange.
We eat, give to friends, make wine. Some I pick early,
wrap in pages of the Echo, pack in boxes.
In the cellar they will last through winter,
preserved, I am told, by newsprint and the damp.

Until Christmas they remain firm, sharp.
Thereafter, the slightest bruise spreads like bad news.
By July, they’ll be wrinkled as raisins,
spilling bright fungi of startling delicacy,
yellow, pink, green. I commit them to compost,
tend this year’s crop, sample the new wine, miss him.


The second poem we are sharing is by Wendy Cope, one of the most acclaimed living comic poets writing in English. Since her first collection appeared in 1986, she has published a handful of popular volumes of comic verse, though she can also write ‘straight’ poetry very successfully too.

‘Engineers’ Corner’ is inspired by an advertisement that was placed in The Times by the Engineering Council. ‘Engineers’ Corner’ is the first poem in Cope’s first collection of poems, the 1986 volume 'Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis'. The advert snottily asked why Britain has ‘always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint’, and sniffily suggested there should be an ‘Engineers’ Corner’ to complement Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Cope’s brilliantly witty retort is a tour de force.  To read more of Wendy Cope's poetry, click here to read 10 poems that are suggested as her best.

Engineers' Corner by Wendy Cope
Why isn't there an Engineers' Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we've always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint... How many school children dream of becoming great engineers?
-- advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council


We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints --
That's why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It's always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.

Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering --
You're sure to need another job as well;
You'll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.

While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You'll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There's far too much encouragement of poets --
That's why this country's going down the drain.