I’m a member of Madeley & District u3a in North Staffordshire. I began writing poetry seriously in my forties and have now had three poetry collections published. Poetry has given me a sense of purpose, a second life in retirement, a renaissance, if you like.
Let’s face it, most people find serious poetry too difficult or too obscure to really enjoy, so my aim is always to write poetry that will please the critic but remain accessible and understandable to the general reader. It’s a difficult balance to find. I don’t do causes or research or themes – I tend to write from emotional impulse, when I feel driven to explore and make sense of an incident, a moment in time, an experience etc.
I’ve been lucky enough to perform to big audiences at major festivals, but the real joy for me is sitting round a table sharing my poetry with a dozen people, chatting about how they relate to a poem, how they see something of themselves and their own lives in it – no writing involved unless they want to. I quite like a jaunt and will happily travel if I’m lucky enough to receive an invitation from any group interested enough to find out a bit more.
Below are two of my poems.
It is easy to be jealous of the young;
difficult to face the onslaught
of their certainty, their stamina,
their bounce on the dance floor
while we’re reduced to a few stiff ‘moves’,
as self-conscious as burglars.
I know it has always been so.
Old men toil in the fields while the young
go off to war singing, bearing the brunt
of ideas more powerful than kings and bombs,
carrying the burden of bad choices.
We have left them only toys,
to download lives that fit into a pocket,
to scroll a kind of meaning out of emptiness
while the tiny spheres of their lives contract
like stars preparing to implode.
It takes a tragedy to make a generation unlearn.
Now they have lives that slide beneath them:
can never power down the drip of data.
This tap-dance is their inheritance.
I fear for them. The way they understand
so little, know so much.
It was the year Man first took a walk
in space and our Earth became
a small blue marble in the black void.
And so we essayed in Marx and Mao
and tutored ourselves in love and peace.
And in November the deep snow came,
solidified, and stayed.
That winter a bus slid backwards down a hill,
marble washstands froze
and snowmen lost their innocence,
and when the wind blew in from the Urals
it was arctic with subversion.
We were all snowmen then,
when spies came in from the cold
and contaminated snow cruised down,
dendrites thick as a nuclear arsenal.
And our flowers grew militant.
We found our voice by sitting in,
by marching on silos at missile sites,
by hurling cobblestones down boulevards.
All things seemed possible.
We clamoured for new politics, fresh starts,
and with our older bones and in our hearts
we are still here, still clamouring.
I’ve also recorded a video of one of my poems that you can watch here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yoo6bnDV1Ro&feature=youtu.be