MS (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! ! Philanderin' And Phillarkin': How To Be A Modern Poet We All Love

Just two things. Write so that we can
understand you while lurching in public transport
book in hand and understand you because
you’re like us but imaginative and funny with it
and make us think; but no fancy stuff:
we want to be sure you’ve been there,
done it, got it down on paper
and that it’s the same there as we’ve been;

and the other thing but it’s not essential:
the better you write, the more we are reassured
by a colourful life well OK scandalous:
a rich and very varied sex life would be good:
a day with Paris, a week with Princess X
then three weeks with some anonymous scrubber
(no gender discrimination here by the way)
would play well. And if 50% of your liaisons
refused to talk (e.g. it was brief but profound)
we could read avidly and then hate the other 50% who told all..
but that doesn’t mean that a vigorous sex life
permits you to say all women are hoes or
call your very private wife ma bitch..

and drink to excess of course, mixing your drinks and company:
though remember, dying young is no longer
a career move in these times
of trivial pursuits and careless raptures;
as for drugs, OK if you must
in which case a ho-hum public attitude from you
indicating you don’t either approve or disapprove
(suggesting that the relationship between chemicals
and creativity is too subtle for the tabloid headlines)
would be better than some extreme stance.

So, Ruth, Derek, and that abstemious Hindu guy –
tell your idiot supporters that more scandal, not less
would well befit a poet who’s to stand for all of us
as Poet Laureate, Prof of Po, Director o fArts Council Poetry;
to assure us that Dionysius is still alive and well and living
somewhere beyond sin and writing great poetry.

*Come to think of it, a rumour that Ruth and Derek
once had a stormy relationship with mutual recriminations
could make this one run and run.
Now that’s what we expect of poets – a bit of phillarkin’ on the side..

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