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Jon Stone's Mustard Poem and Michaela Clarke

Following on from a recent post, I have tasked Kingston undergrads in my Poetry Now class with trying to outdo Jon Stone's clever Mustard anagram sonnet in Best British Poetry 2011.  Here's another clever version, from second-year-student poet Michaela Clarke, pictured.


What use is it, trying to be creative?
It’s as difficult as trying to motivate rice
to grow in the famine of your mind. Instead, starve: ice
cold in the pit of your imagination. Retire: cave
into your wallowing self. Or take no notice: rave
your life away. Or say, ‘C’est la vie’. React
to this challenge: this destructive race
against time to find the perfect words, and with instinctive care.
Hope to find peace in that inventive crate
in your head. To be creative is to believe: cart
away the doubt and be reckless. Take my advice: tear
it up. Even though doubt is a bond harder to break than to tie, crave,
need, embrace, nurture. Someday, you’ll find the live trace
that will make you more inspired, more ready, more reactive.

poem by Michaela Clarke; reprinted with permission of the poet.


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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

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He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.