Today, as is my usual Saturday, I went to Fargo to buy books at The Big Comfy Bookshop. I noticed that there was a mobile poetry van and decided I would like my own free poem. I waited for three hours, drank tea and bought too many books and then the van opened.
The poet I buttonholed was Lewis Buxton. He is a very nice, enthusiastic young man, intelligent and confident. He explained to me what they were doing and said I could suggest any topic for him to write a poem about so I chose the Tyrant Vortigern. Yes I was being naughty but he said I could have anything. He asked me a few questions about 410AD which marks the withdrawal of the Roman Legions from Britain, the decline of Roman Britain and the emergence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. I must admit that he did ask me a stupid question, how did I feel about the facts but he does not know I am autistic and do not have “feelings about things” (except, maybe, strange questions about how I am feeling about bald facts).
I am not sure it would be fair to subject the poem itself to criticism. I have reserved criticism of the material to my History Talker blog. Lewis is a professional poet and would normally spend days and sweat blood over every line. This he banged out in fifteen minutes. The gimmick of the van is that it does not serve burgers but poems, if this poem were a burger would it be a Burger King Burger or a dodgy 11pm I am so drunk I do not know what I am eating burger? I can answer this in the former. Its a good solid poem utilising a number of good techniques to achieve first a complete poem and second to communicated an interesting episode in British history. Just like the blinding of Vortigern by the Jutes the poem is fast and brutal encapsulating my potted history of the coming of the English (these word inspired much mirth in Mr Buxton who said it sounds like a porn film).
So to conclude this is a lovely gimmick for the City of Culture and is part of the BBC Strong Language event. I have enjoyed my poem and intend to take my son tomorrow to give the panel another difficult topic to write a poem about.