Poems in my pocket

Don’t you find it sad when books that you love go out of print?

Last week one of my favourite poets, Charlotte Mitchell, was featured on Radio 4’s Poetry Please programme and listeners were clearly desperate to read her work. Sadly, her books are out of print and so the only place searchers on the internet could find anything was here on my blog. I discovered this because of a spike in my statistics for a post featuring one of her poems – Just In Case.

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My copies

So, rather than bemoan the issue I thought I would do something about it. Sadly Charlotte, who was also an actress, died in 2012, but I knew that she had children and so I decided to make contact and sent a message to her daughter, Candy Guard who is an author, illustrator and animator, to ask if I could quote some of her mum’s poems in full here on the blog. And Candy has very kindly said that I can! She also mentioned that she has been thinking of getting the poems published as a ‘collected works’, so maybe they won’t be out of print too much longer – fingers crossed.

I also discovered that Candy’s animations are really worth looking at; in her own words they always concern ‘feisty yet wobbly female protagonists’ and, like her mum’s poems they speak to me about real life. I am particularly fond of ‘Alternative Fringe‘, which sums up exactly why I have long hair and never go to the hairdressers!!

Anyway, without further ado, here is a poem that (somewhat outdated with the advent of mobile phones and disappearance of student grants) made me giggle, but mentions Candy, to whom I am tempted to send a gorillagram by way of thanks!!

The Passing of The Telegram

I wanted to alert my phoneless daughter —
a student on a grant —
that a later train than first advised
would contain an aged aunt.
The man at British Telecom was useless,
I put the phone down with a slam,
he said the only thing to do
was to send a gorillagram.

I had to send some furry ape
to Newcastle upon Tyne
to read the following message:
Aunt Win arriving sixteen forty-nine.

And this one just had to appear here:

Snails

I’m very angry with those snails,
They’ve eaten my mesembryanthemum,
I didn’t ask those snails to come.

I’m very angry with those snails
In spite of their beautiful, silvery trails.
They’ve munched the glory out of my garden,
The succulent stems and the brilliant pink.

Said the snails: ‘We weren’t looking for visual pleasure,
We were looking for food and drink.’

Both poems are from Just In Case: Poems in my Pocket  published by Souvenir Press, 1991 ISBN 0285630601. Currently out of print, but available secondhand from Amazon, as is I Want to go Home: Poems Through a Day, 1990 ISBN 0285629956.

If you come across some writing or a picture that you like and want to include on your own blog – why not contact the author/artist/photographer and ask if you can share it? Our experience is very positive in this respect… Mr Snail contacted Tom Gauld some time ago to ask for permission to use one of his cartoons in a blog post and was delighted to be told that using it was fine. I know I’m always happy when someone asks to share one of my pictures.

Anyway, I have a couple more of Charlotte’s poems to include in future posts, so keep a look out… or better still, seek out her books.

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9 Comments

  1. Love, love LOVE Charlotte Mitchell’s work and have got a copy of Just in Case. How exciting this all is! I once contacted a famous artist whose work I had loved as a girl. He and I became friends. Magical things can happen 🙂

    Reply
    • Hopefully Candy will put together a collected works so that lots more people can enjoy these poems.
      It’s interesting, isn’t it, that if we open ourselves up, we can make all sorts of wonderful connections and friendships? I think that’s one of the reasons I like blogging so much.

      Reply
  2. The Alternative Fringe is brilliant! Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  3. I love the Snail poem! 😉

    Reply
  4. Thought of you this morning when I read this story in the NY Times about the health benefits of knitting: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/the-health-benefits-of-knitting/?_r=0 . See, you’re on to something! 🙂

    Reply
  5. I also loved the snail one!

    Reply

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