Please request this poem to be read, by an actor, on Radio 4’s Poetry Please.
Please let me hear a disconnected, white middle-class accent, with no vested interest in poetic expression, repeat the phrase I hate Poetry Please!
Please appeal to (what I hope is) the producer’s hidden sense of fun and mischief, fear of social embarrassment, and to her sense of duty to perceived BBC balance, and fl ood her inbox with a request to hear a poem called ‘I Hate Poetry Please’!
Please apply pressure on yesterscouse token soft northern comfort-voiced Waitrose salesman Roger McGough, who, it seems, may just have forgot the stuff that poetry’s made of: the essence of himself and his visionary linguistic anarchic oomph. Tell him thank you very much for the thank you very much, for the Liverpool scene and the Aintree Iron, the social zest and lyrical philosophical depth, the brilliant translation of the Molière text, so ably presented in language steeped in access, but please please please tell him: I hate Poetry Please!
Because I love poems reared and given voice by their maker, with local knowledge of her spoken arrangement, because the poet thought of the way, not just the what, of what’s on the paper –
considered her birth, how she should be reared, how we should feel her, what she should be if someone came to read her.
So please read this poem called ‘I Hate Poetry Please’ out loud on Poetry Please, please. Shout, Attention! to the new modal army, equipped with original poetic expression, and Stand easy, tropes; move away from the canon! to the boredom battalion,
trotting out tired, tedious, twee verses from ever-decreasing circles of poems whose endings don’t leave us guessing due to excessive repetition at white bourgeois weddings: well-trodden words from a handful of bards who once trod the boards, whilst stroking their beards, with their poems about birds or the supposed absurd, which are now only exposed in the classrooms of those who bracket that faux-whimsical tone with love, wisdom, and woe as the inadequately narrow definition they know of a poem.
This is a cause of great depression. There’s a whole brave new world of poetic expression.
Now, you could argue that Poetry Please is doing no harm – let it be, but I believe that Poetry Please restricts the definition of what poetry can be and suppresses the growth of the poetry scene.
If Radio 2 is the music station for those that hate music, then Poetry Please is the poetry programme for those that hate muses.
No new inspiration, no genius, nothing with unusual rhyme or meter. No globetrotting antics, or faraway fancies, not much that ambles away from iambic. No new themes. Same old: love, remembrance, friendship, fellowship, recycled on calendars like seasonal worship, parrot fashion repetition devoid of passion like C of E hymns, With endings that make you go Hmm, not Urgh! or Argh! or Jesus Christ! Because it’s jumper-wearing, avoid all swearing, chicken in basket, don’t stare at spastics* , biscuits are nice, don’t like spice, meat and two vegetables, value your collectibles, keep it in the corner, de-value the performer, tune out, drawling, gnawing, boring poetry. I want vibrant poems, preferably live, but at least from the living.
So read this poem called ‘I Hate Poetry Please’ on Poetry Please, please, and please, please, please change the nature of poetry, please.