Ode to recession: with Donne and Weller ringing in their ears, Indy readers took up the challenge...
We asked you to match Andrew Motion's poem on the economy. D J Taylor picks his favourite
Monday 04 May 2009
Poetry on the air, George Orwell once suggested, "sounds the Muses in striped trousers". Poetry on TV, on the other hand, seems to encourage the creative imaginations like no other stimulus. The dozens of responses to our call for a "recession poem", sparked by the retiring Poet Laureate Andrew Motion's recitation on Question Time, took in practically every poetic form available.
There were limericks (Chris Sanderson's "There once was Prime Minister Brown/Who said with a sad sincere frown/That the problem was global/And his efforts noble/But we all thought he'd let us down"), performance poetry clearly written for declamation to sympathetic audiences and dense meditative reflections. Fat cats, market forces and gravy trains ("The gravy train stands gleaming/with the sweat and blood of you and me" – Philip Seaman) abounded, along with the assumption that the City of London was a spiritual graveyard ("A banker mopes in the city forlorn" – Neil Harvey).
Amid the drift and dereliction came many a striking image: magpies rooting through "bright city lawns", the fiscal crisis as a sexually transmitted disease no antibiotics could cure. Naturally, Independent readers are well-read, as the submissions bristled with literary references and allusion: Dickens, Shakespeare and Donne were all deftly evoked, along with the Bible, and several of you, to judge by the not-quite deliberate homages to The Jam's "Town Called Malice", have fond memories of early 1980s recession-era pop music. The statements of political intent pulled no punches ("If capitalism's so great/Then how come we got into this state?" opened Paul Eustice's five-liner, ending with "Vote Old Labour – it's never too late".
Marilyn Murray's winning entry combined the intense moral dissatisfaction common to most entries with simple, effective imagery, culminating in the stark injunction to "Love what you've got/And stop your fretting".
To want more
To need less
To a total mess
When we grab
All that's there
Stack up ore trophies
The less we care
The sightless many
Follow a light
Take all you can
Pocket all you must
You have no truth
You have no trust
Look over your shoulder
See what he's getting
Love what you've got
And stop your fretting
By Marilyn Murray, Ormskirk, Lancashire
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Doctor Who series 9: Jenna Coleman staying on for whole season as Clara Oswald
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader