‘Legacies’ by Gerald Locklin – poetry and politics

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I came across the pamphlet the pittsburg poems last night that Gerald Locklin produced with fellow poet Mark Webber [one of those inverse/back to front chapbooks] and I read all the Locklin who I always enjoy so much.

I like particularly the poem LEGACIES that I shall copy here, identifying with the sentiment, and finding amusing the reference to the English who get a bit of a hard time in a few poems in this collection – not sure why. It also seemed apt at the moment in the line about dionysians against apollo: not wanting to corrupt that too much but I do think there is a pertinence here to the coming general election, especially if we ironically accept the ‘chaos’ tag given to Labour by the Tories, and assuming we’d rather have that kind of chaos over their totally controlled uncaring:

as a kid whether in the world
of the three musketeers or the
wars to claim this continent,
we always rooted for the french
against the english, montcalm in
his tragic uphill struggle against
wolfe, the catholic against the
protestants, the hurons over the iroquois.

this presented problems with
james fenimore cooper,
not to mention history.

i think that we were championing
the dionysians against apollo.

today that’s still a losing battle.

[published 1996]

‘Writing with Hammers’ review

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I am delighted and humbled to have this generous review [on amazon] of my eBook novel Writing With Hammers:

This is a funny and surreal memoir of a teacher who charts the frustrations and joys of a life inside the classroom. Government initiatives and his colleagues’ futile attempts to corral him into a more corporate mentality are resisted with bewildered, incredulous and increasingly desperate responses. The episodic narrative takes in the impact on his family life (they often fail to recognise him), fairly disturbing characters flit in and out as the beleaguered main character tries to carve a way through a quagmire of statistical and bureaucratic oppression. This is funny, sad, at times bitter and ironic but retains at its heart a generous spirit and moving affection for young people, the students, the individuals that the writer deals with every day. Harry, with his interesting speech patterns, is at the heart of this book and shows where the writer’s sympathies lie, despite the attempts of the system to ignore individual needs. You don’t have to be a teacher to enjoy this. It’s quirky and lifts the lid on the way education, indeed most of our lives, have been shifted into a corporate routine despite our best intentions. Moving, funny, sad. Enjoy. I did.

I have now sold 3 copies! No Booker for me this year I suspect……

Draft Dodgers

A little additional information to my previous posting: I rang the DfE to try and speak with Anthony Hunter who wrote the meaningless letter to me [copied in that post] in order to ask him to explain, if he could, the few things that were said. I was told he was unavailable. More interestingly, I was also told he couldn’t answer any specific questions because he didn’t actually write the letter. He is a ‘drafter’. Apparently this means he just signs the letters [though I presume there might possibly be some element of ‘cut and pasting’ those little snippets of mantra-esque meaninglessnesses I characterised also in the previous posting]. Even more revelatory, Daniel Metcalfe to whom I had initially written and for whom Anthony Hunter had made his reply, is also a ‘drafter’. So neither of these ‘Ministerial and Public Communications Division’ employees is able to communicate anything of any substance. They exist to draft responses and then dodge responses because they are unavailable and unable anyway.

This explains everything. No, really, it does.

Stonewalling and Arrogance

For those who have followed this thread, I have received the latest response from the DfE which of course completely ignores the substance of my complaint about the effective banning of texts from GCSE English Literature from September 2015.

I am not in the least surprised to have received such a stonewalling and arrogant reply having been used to this deflection and avoidance from the DfE, in its many guises, over the years. My ‘acceptance’ of that fact is nonetheless an angry and disgusted one, but my only ‘consolation’ is in having witnessed totally similar – from all political parties – over the recent weeks of the General Election campaign.

Two examples from yesterday will suffice to illustrate, both from Tories who I think have been the worst [or most proficient in executing], but I acknowledge all Parties have been rehearsed to the most immaculate degree of stubbornness in persisting with a mantra of key words/phrases regardless of the precise or even quite general question being asked.

One was Andrew Neal on his lunchtime BBC2 politics programme asking a question of a Tory minister about a potential threat to child benefit should her Party be elected, and for her then to repeatedly ignore that question – asked again and again by Neal – by rehashing a rehearsed generic reply. We have seen similar from so many throughout the campaigning, but it was still, and will continue to be, obnoxiously brazen and arrogant and – simply but profoundly – rude.

The other was by David Cameron on the Question Time special last night being asked a question about the proliferation and need for food banks during his 5 years in government and, as a related though more specific point by the same person, a question about a disabled child who had died and whose parents were subsequently being charged the bedroom tax for that child’s now vacant room: highly emotive questions, especially the second, asked with clarity and sincerity. When Cameron responded with yet another repeat of the mantra, one he had already regurgitated 3-4 times up to that point, and never once – not once – addressing or even acknowledging the emotive reality of that question [agreed with or not], I was utterly disgusted……but sadly not surprised. And that is the horror: not to be surprised, as I am not surprised with this response today – though I am not comparing the emotional and moral aspects of these two situations.

I probably haven’t articulated the depth of anger and frustration in all of that as I would like to have done, but it will have to do. Posting the following letter even seems a little insignificant within the context of the wider picture I have placed it, but it is still a part of that overall persistent stonewalling and arrogance which is so prevalent now.

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