I’m working on a poem for my new poetry group, an intimidating bunch that meet in the National Theatre’s Olivier bar on a Friday night. This week, we’re looking at humour in poetry – Dorothy Parker and Michael Donaghy, so I thought I’d work on my own little piece. As it turns out, I’ve been much inspired by a couple of other teacher-poets. Notably, Joyce Grenfell (pictured) whose recording ‘George, don’t do that’ is one my Dad bought for my mother when she qualified as a primary school teacher in the nineties. I used to love listening to the cassette while I dried up the dinner plates.
Also, the first poem I learned off by heart:
“Please, Mrs Butler
This boy, Derek Drew,
keeps copying my work, Miss
What shall I do?…” (Allan Ahlberg)
It’s a fantastic book of poems, all about life in primary school which, I’m told, are as true now as they were when we were young.
Which is a far cry from the person in my poetry group who claims his son can recite the entire of Algernon Charles Swinburne’s “When the Hounds of Spring” and is only 8.
But he doesn’t go to a Comp.
(For those of you desperate to hear my attempt at teacher humour in a poem, I’ll try and get it up… if it’s ever finished.)