National Poetry Day Challenge 2015

Thursday, 8th October 2015

As I have done on most National Poetry Days in recent years, I issued an open challenge on Twitter to my followers for poem requests. Happily, I received three responses which allowed me to get my poetry hat back on for the first time in a while. I should note that these were mainly concocted off the top of my head so I make no guarantees whatsoever about the quality of them!


My first request came over breakfast from the great Aberdeenshire poet and playwright Catriona Yule. Catriona wanted a poem about a mushroom in a Victorian style. We had a little problem with damp (or something!) recently in our house which led to a wee bit of fungus growing through our carpet, so I thought I'd play on that.

Mushroom poem in a Victorian style (for Catriona Yule)

Miss Tumult, a dateless spinster
Boasted of her new Axminster
Sat on madescent boards below
Thru’ the twills, did a mushroom grow


My next request came from the author of the Hurricane Hilda series of children's books, Elaine May Smith. Elaine is pleased that her poetry has been likened to both Pam Ayres and William Topaz McGonagall and requested one that pays tribute to them. I hope this does justice to both.

Pam Ayres meets William McGonagall (for Elaine May Smith)

They agreed to meet in an Oxfordshire inn
She’d wear an Azalea; he’d wear a grin
He’d order a whisky; She’d order a gin
A beautiful friendship was sure to begin
But the two poets quarrelled on rhythm and rhyme
Pam’s was beat-perfect; Will’s was off time
Pam’s words were lively and brimming with wit
Will’s words were tedious, tiresome and badly chosen


My final request of the day came from Aberdeenshire poet and big Liverpool FC fan Eddie Gibbons. Eddie asked for a Jurgen Klopp poem to celebrate his team's new appointment. I did my best to bring in some authentic Scouse vernacular, but it has more in common with the Anfield Rap than the Liverpool poets. My own team Sunderland are looking for a manager right now too, so I took the opportunity to give them a mention also.

A Jurgen Klopp poem (for Eddie Gibbons)

When Rodgers got sacked off, the word on the Kop
Was ‘You ‘eard our new manager’s some la’ named Klopp?
Says ‘e eats, an’ ‘e breathes and ‘e thinks just the game.’
‘Better think up some tactics or ‘e’ll get the blame.’
‘Ah, give ‘im a chance, la’, he’s not started yet.’
‘But how will he claw back wee Brendan’s debt?’
‘With Sunderland getting that div Allardyce,
he’ll sell them our soft lads at double the price.’


Watch out for more silly verse this time next year!