Saturday Live

Hi did my first Saturday Live this weekend. The first of many I hope. Every week they have a poet in to write two short topical poems. The first is only 20 seconds long and can be about anything topical that week. The second is about one minute and has to be about an item on the show. You usually get the nod from the producers on Thursday pm, which gives you about 36 hours to get the poems written. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to sit down with the ideas till Friday afternoon, though I was able to start thinking about my ideas before then. This, I think is key, if you have a strong idea linking into the topic, it gives you quite a lot of freedom to work within that.

I started thinking about the 20 seconder first, as it was less specific and meant I didn’t need to wait for info from the Beeb. A glib round-up of the weeks events would have just sounded rubbish, though I did toy with the couplet: “I staked my house on Paddick / Now I’m my life is more nomadic.” In the end I came up with:

This Week, Be Glad

To all sand-paper skinned cabbies in ranks that snake for leagues
To weekend dads let down again with Happy Meal fatigue;
To shop girls working Saturdays so hungover and sick;
To the gauche and awkward school boys with permanent split lips;
To salesmen in Burton suits who shoot the rear view frowns;
To all those disenfranchised souls in glum commuting towns;
This week be glad of one small fact – ‘least you’re not Gordon Brown.

Once I had the (admittedly, quite cheap) punchline it gave me free reign to work in some nice images in the run up. I want to paint a maudlin picture of Saturday morning Britain, there was loads initially, but I was kept to twenty seconds. I was pleased that I got proper metre and imagery into, it would have been easy to do a 4 line jokey poem about the Mayoral election, but I didn’t want to come away from the experience feeling a bit dirty.

Likewise, with the second one, it was all about taking the time to find an idea strong enough to provide a framework for having some fun. The main story on Saturday Live this week was Marion Dante’s, who had spent 37 years in a Covent, finally emerging in 1991 without any idea of how to cook for herself, open a bank account or even who The Beatles were. Her story is both heart-warming and sad, and I felt that I couldn’t do it justice in only a minute. I decided instead to take one aspect of it and have some fun. The result is below:

The Nuns Need To Know

The nuns need to know
The nuns need to know
Give them page three freakshows and Flop Idols
Popbitch libels and Boris Johnson’s blood shot eyeballs
maggot eating d-listers,
Mika, the Scissor Sisters.
Hit them with Channel 4 documentaries
with the ‘concerned’ presenting style
and titles like: Body Popping Peadophiles
and The Girl Whose Face Exploded
give them Loaded and Young Mums’ Mansion
give them ill-fated Olympics expansions
give them Clarkson
as he harps on
like a fart that never ends
give them Lily Allen’s … “friends”
give them David Cameron’s meaningless trends
and Littlejohn’s lies and hatred
give them pop culture grated
over our lust for gory details that will never be sated.

The nuns need to know
The nuns need to know
They need to know how quickly these dullards become iconic
They need to know that Hasselhof isn’t being ironic
and they should probably know about Bono’s Jesus complex
(After all, that’s their line of work
it would help put it into context)

Then chuck them a bit of Channel 5 News
soaked in bubble-gum flavoured booze
show them women who own five hundred pairs of shoes
and a bendy bus
cos if they knew about this Hell On Earth
they might pray some more for us.

I’m not entirely displeased with the result. It’s hardly my greatest work, but it seemed to do the job.

The whole experience: writing, performing and meeting Marion, Shelia Mclennon (filling in for Fi Glover this week) and ABC frontman Martin Fry was great and I look forward to a return visit. Thanks for listening if you were. You can still catch it on Listen Again HERE.

1 Comment

  • CHARLAX May 7, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Baptism Poem
    Baptism Poem

    Sprinkle the babies immerse the freaks whole heartedly hold them under a bit too long and solve the worlds problems baptismal fountains in every city are empty the preachers are preaching for money
    The nuns are living for earthly pleasure and the monks are drinking the vineyards of the devil dry
    Eye wanted to John the baptize but my name was made Charles when my mother told to me there is already a Johnny too many in this the city of the borne child mee. Pick the grapes more carefully for wine do not let them age at half past nine make new wine and rebaptize the sinners in the fountain of the youth of JESUS CHRIST.

    http://poetrypoem.com/cgi-bin/index.pl?poemnumber=835854&sitename=charlax&password=&poemoffset=0&displaypoem=t&item=poetry

    Reply

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