Look At It This Way - October 7, 2011

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It’s nice to note High Court judges have a lyrical streak. A 19-year-old Blackpool girl given three months youth custody, suspended for 12 months, after attacking an Asian teenager on the Prom last year, put pen to paper, and wrote several poems for the judge she faced after sentencing was deferred back in March.

Whether the 16-year-old Asian girl, who may need two front teeth replacing as a result of the assault, looks as kindly upon poetry is another matter, but she has received a letter of apology, which is at least a start. And the judge was so impressed by poems he considered “almost capable of being published”, he’s even overlooked what he calls a “blip” in her assailant’s behaviour since he last saw her... for she returned to court for a common assault.

I tend to avoid poetry in anything other than the privacy of my own home like the very plague.

Would-be poets are to be avoided at all costs. Come back when you’re published. By a proper publishing house – rather than vanity press. Or online – which so rashly spreads poor poetry from Bard to verse so to speak.

This is more a reflection on the standard of alleged poetry submitted to me than any inherent hatred of poetry. It’s a bit scary to get odd odes from terriers called Devil from Blackpool, who barking owners claim have put paw to paper to pen “say boo to poo and bin the sin”. Or mawkish musings from miseries. Or the ravings of a self-styled soothsayer who forecast: “More money, for Morley, is what I see. Hee hee.” Spooky.

My problem is I like poetry. I love the stuff John Siddique wrote when he was Blackpool’s poet in residence, even if artists are the flavour of current funding by the Arts Council, commissioned for the likes of the Lights’ Little Histories comic strips and Comedy Carpet.

But I like good poetry. My brother’s a good poet. In fact, he’s one of the best and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased and a nepotist – although I am – but because he’s won national awards, teaches it, and has had lots of books published. Not self published.

But he’s written his share of bad poetry too and, if he doesn’t dedicate his next volume to me, the literary world will come to know just how excruciatingly awful Chrysalis (David Morley circa 13) was. That or I blackmail him with it if he’s ever in the running for Laureate.

So I’d caution Mr Justice MacDuff against encouraging poets. Even Byron was said to be mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Still, with a name like Macduff, a love of Shakespeare must go with the flow. Remember Macbeth’s final words? “Lay on, Macduff, and damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!” Unless it applies to poetry, of course...