Checking out potential young poets. The name of Iain Jeffcock much mentioned. 'With his first collection, Back / Slash, Jeffcock was instantly acclaimed for his 'vein of quietly poised sarcasm' and 'a uniquely self-regarding voice' . . .' Sounds the kind of thing.
THURSDAY To the Voice Box, to hear Jeffcock read. I think he probably is the kind of thing. I was struck by one title, which I felt we might use as a sort of slogan. He introduced it by saying: 'In the next poem, interestingly, I try to imagine myself being commercially exploited. Which, um, could happen. So - 'A Word In Your Mouth'.
'No pressure, I'm assured. Sign there. The voice, / it's great. A word, though, subject-matter-wise: / Can you do something just a bit less real? / (Keeping, of course, to your distinctive style.) / Be open to the customer. Try and catch / the mood. Don't draw the imagery so much / from violence; snooker, booze, and haute cuisine / are, we suggest, more in the clients' line.
'Words are being put into my mouth, I'm / swallowing them greedily, verbatim, / I'm swelling like a Strasbourg goose / going for bust, I'm picking up my cues / quicker than Hurricane Higgins off his head / On Special Brew. I trust I've caught the mood.'
Impressive pause. Then he added: 'I should say that I wrote that poem as a response to a newspaper article I read about a commercial arts organisation which is apparently notorious for its treatment of artists. Didn't actually say if they employed any poets.'
I caught up with him after the reading. I said that, by a remarkable coincidence, I represented the organisation he had referred to, and though he might have reservations, we could offer him an attractive arrangement.
He considered this. He said: 'I guess, historically, many poets have, if you like, benefited from, possibly, oppression.' I said, of course we couldn't promise to be quite up to Eastern Bloc standards, but we would certainly do our best.Reuse content