Tuesday, May 24

Oh shit.....

I have decided it's time I owned up and told the world (or as much of the world as comes to this website) that I have been remiss. (Hang on. I just need to check “remiss” means what I think it means. “Remiss: adj negligent; slack; lax; lacking vigour.”) Oh yes, I have been all of those things, quite often. But the main thing I have been in connection with what I want to say is that I have been negligent. At Christmas I was handed a copy of Paul Durcan’s “The Art of Life” by friends who had also been given it. They didn’t want it. They didn’t want it because they thought it was rubbish. I glanced through it when they gave it to me and agreed that it certainly did look like what literary critics, if they are honest (and they are not always that), call “rubbish”. I agreed to take it off their hands and out of their house (and to the household waste tip if necessary) in return for a glass of wine and a mince pie. It was Christmas.

The book has poems in it like this:

Ireland 2001

Where’s my bikini?
We’ll be late for Mass.

Yes, I know. You think I’m taking the piss. I’m not. The book is a hardback book, and it costs £12, which is not cheap, and it's published by The Harvill Press. It has a paper wrap-around cover, and around the paper wrap-around cover is a paper wrap-around slip which has on it a couple of quotes. This is where the lavish presentation of bad poems takes on a new aspect; it's where the silly becomes ludicrous. One of the quotes is by Alice Sebold, whoever the hell she is. I probably should know, but since this is what she says I don’t want to know at all. Not at all. She is obviously mad. She says

Durcan is a God.

This God wrote this poem:


At 93, she is a young girl laughing
At midnight in her doorway.
She cries: “Come again, come again!”
Exhausted, I limp away.

Yes, I know. You think I’m taking the piss. I’m not. This poem makes me feel almost physically sick. Perhaps this is why I’ve not written about this awful book until now. I’ve read some of the longer poems and struggled with the sense that this chap thinks he can write anything and get away with it. Gods should surely know that being politically reasonably well-aligned and finding that words come easy isn’t enough. Well, maybe it’s okay for gods (I have no idea what it takes to be a god) but it’s sure as hell not enough for poets. Mind you, gods also know sycophants are easy to come by. (Hang on, I need to check “sycophant” means what I think it means.)

Yes. It does.

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