Dancing About Architecture


Posted by in April's Magazine

Dear Joan, “this is awkward but…”
Dear Rodger, “sweetie, I don’t do embarrassment.”
What I want to ask is…
It’s my job, love, lay it on the line.
The…
Mmm…
The thing…
Go on…
The thing is…
Ask away, kid.
Can, can I, I mean, can you…
Yes…
Can you…look, CAN YOU GET POETRY STANDING UP?
Pardon?
I think you heard.
That’s your question?
That’s it.
Are you sure?
Yes!
You’re not…
No!
And let me guess, might you be asking this on behalf of a friend?
There’s no need to be patronising.
I thought I’d heard it all before but…
Allow me to apologise for the sin of originality.
I don’t think even I’ve been doing this long enough to have covered original sin.
Have you considered a career in stand-up?
Who’s being patronising now?
Back to my question…
Standing up-poetry-get. You can, yes, unless you take precautions.
What precautions?
Close your eyes and your ears and your heart.
I tried that. And I tried the rhythm method and dry rhyming and I even tried abstinence. I stopped reading poetry for nearly six months but I couldn’t let it go and now I’ve gone and got poetry.
How do you know for sure?
I’ve done the test three times and every time the result was positive.
So…
So it would seem I’m up the Carol Ann Duffy.
I’m sorry to hear that. Obviously we don’t know each other that well but let me just say from what I know that…
How am I going to Wendy Cope?
Now you’ve got a pun in the oven?
What should I do?
I suppose you could always start with Keats and Yates.
Eh?
Maybe those dead French guys…
Listen…
Or the Beats or Stevie Smith or go more contemporary – Kate Tempest or Simon Armitage?
Stop interrupting! You’re not a good listener at all. Hear me out. I’ve fallen in love with Emily Dickinson. There. I’ve said it.
I’ve seen it happen and, believe me; you’ll get over it.
Like she did you mean?
Hope is the thing with feathers.
I’m working my way through the Scottish Poetry Library, A to Z.
Auden to Zephaniah?
It’s tragic.
And comic, such being the human condition, but that’s the gig, right?
You know what Adrian Mitchell said?
What, that most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most poetry?
It’s funny because it’s true.
It’s a champion example of chiasmus.
Chiasmus you say? Well, I suppose I have been reading around a bit.
They call it the reversible raincoat of rhetoric. I like that. It’s poetic.
Which gets us back to my predicament…
Yes, about that…
I guess I could get rid of it.
That’s one option, of course, or you could accept it. Curse of the verse. There are worse vices.
There are?
Lots of them. There must be. Aren’t there?
Name them.
Hmm…
Do tell.
In the words of Kafka: there is hope – but not for us.
You’re quoting Kafka at me and you hack out a column for a disreputable tabloid?
It’s an art form what I do, a bloody art form.
An art form informed by homophobia and an anti-immigrant stance?
Stop right there – and just what is it you do for a living?
That’s not the point.
The point is you’re not telling me. What are you, an arms dealer?
I don’t think we really need to get into all that.
Darling, don’t be all snooty with me and then refuse to accept your own shortcomings.
My own EE Cummings? My question, my quandary, my condition…
Look, we’ve had some good times haven’t we? There’ll always be the memories, not to mention the pictures – and whatever you do please don’t mention the pictures, but you must stop emailing me now.
But I don’t understand…
It’s not you, it’s…the thing is I’m worried I might catch poetry from you.
But that’s absurd! You’re a woman of the world.
The world’s wife, I love that. My favourite’s the one about Mrs Darwin at the zoo.
There are worse vices I suppose.
Than being an arms dealer?
Than poetry I mean.
Such as?
Um…
Did I mention that Faber & Faber are bringing out my first collection of verse in the spring? It’s called “Dear Joan”. Not what I wanted but…
Hold on…
Crap isn’t it. “How To Get Poetry Standing Up” was my preference, but they tell me brand recognition is what counts.
Never write to me again. Ever.

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