At school I hated poetry. I was told it was clever, that the poem held a deeper meaning if only I spent time analysing it. I didn’t put the time in, learn the ropes as it were, and perhaps that was the reason that I received no joy from poetry.
To me poetry was written by dead people for really old people to enjoy and they too would probably die quite soon – with any luck my teacher among them. English poems were about The Empire, Flowers, and Love, written by people who traipsed over fields describing divine sunsets.
Burns was the equivalent of water-boarding torture with his use of ancient Scottish rhymes, dripping sentimentality. Reading his work was like jogging in a swimming pool of treacle while dressed as an Apollo astronaut. I set fire to a book of Burns’ poems on the day that I left school.
The war poets were of greater interest as they were at least saying something that came from the heart, working to a deadline enforced by their being in imminent danger. I didn’t always understand the language but at least there was truth.
Poetry was not cool. How could it be? Wordsworth, Keats and Burns and the war poets were in their graves and John Cooper Clarke had still to play his first gig.