Liberté ~ Paul Éluard

Sur mes cahiers d’écolier
Sur mon pupitre et les arbres
Sur le sable sur la neige
J’écris ton nom

Sur toutes les pages lues
Sur toutes les pages blanches
Pierre sang papier ou cendre
J’écris ton nom

Sur les images dorées
Sur les armes des guerriers
Sur la couronne des rois
J’écris ton nom

Sur la jungle et le désert
Sur les nids sur les genêts
Sur l’écho de mon enfance
J’écris ton nom

Sur les merveilles des nuits
Sur le pain blanc des journées
Sur les saisons fiancées
J’écris ton nom

Sur tous mes chiffons d’azur
Sur l’étang soleil moisi
Sur le lac lune vivante
J’écris ton nom

Sur les champs sur l’horizon
Sur les ailes des oiseaux
Et sur le moulin des ombres
J’écris ton nom

Sur chaque bouffée d’aurore
Sur la mer sur les bateaux
Sur la montagne démente
J’écris ton nom

Sur la mousse des nuages
Sur les sueurs de l’orage
Sur la pluie épaisse et fade
J’écris ton nom

Sur les formes scintillantes
Sur les cloches des couleurs
Sur la vérité physique
J’écris ton nom

Sur les sentiers éveillés
Sur les routes déployées
Sur les places qui débordent
J’écris ton nom

Sur la lampe qui s’allume
Sur la lampe qui s’éteint
Sur mes maisons réunies
J’écris ton nom

Sur le fruit coupé en deux
Du miroir et de ma chambre
Sur mon lit coquille vide
J’écris ton nom

Sur mon chien gourmand et tendre
Sur ses oreilles dressées
Sur sa patte maladroite
J’écris ton nom

Sur le tremplin de ma porte
Sur les objets familiers
Sur le flot du feu béni
J’écris ton nom

Sur toute chair accordée
Sur le front de mes amis
Sur chaque main qui se tend
J’écris ton nom

Sur la vitre des surprises
Sur les lèvres attentives
Bien au-dessus du silence
J’écris ton nom

Sur mes refuges détruits
Sur mes phares écroulés
Sur les murs de mon ennui
J’écris ton nom

Sur l’absence sans désir
Sur la solitude nue
Sur les marches de la mort
J’écris ton nom

Sur la santé revenue
Sur le risque disparu
Sur l’espoir sans souvenir
J’écris ton nom

Et par le pouvoir d’un mot
Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer


Juxtaposition Error

I’ve criticised the Mail online for its juxtaposition of news reporting [this in itself usually deserving criticism for right-wing invective] with its salacious side-bar scroll.

Today’s Guardian online, whilst not sinking to a similar, intentional level, should/could have been more sensitive to this incongruous, to be polite, pairing:


Adrian Mitchell – Ride the Nightmare


How delighted I was yesterday to pick up these two Mitchell collections from an Oxfam shop.

Even more so to find Old Age Report in the collection Ride the Nightmare,


I used to read/share/teach this poem with students a lifetime ago. It was anthologised in a book I can’t remember, probably themed around Age, but I am not sure. What I do recall is the large number of anthologies or themed English subject collections where poetry was such a feature: excellent, varied poems for reading. Yes, just for reading. There were working/writing suggestions based on these, many creative, if you wanted to use, but it was genuinely a rich time of educational publishing that first and foremost featured literature to read and share and teach for pleasure. I’m talking early ’80s, so books of that time and obviously the 70s. And of course, poets like Adrian Mitchell had made poetry fun and accessible and also meaningful across a wide range of themes, not least war and poverty, to name two enduring ones….


Post-Exam Student Forum Found Poem

In media res
with the bullshitting it
for 45 minutes,

one question
to answer
in that cluster –

question one, a

the reality of war
as opposed to
effects of war?

Must remember
AABB rhyme
is fucking shite

if you are at war.
Running and lugging
his gun

is assonance?
Or is ass
thing to do,

the sibilance

No, this is a
piece of piss
his exam and

I wouldn’t have minded
if ‘he’ –
personal pronoun –

took it himself.
No, a single charge
is a piece of piss

compared to the
six hundred
yet I proper good ignored

that part of the
comparing poems
[chaos can’t be

War poetry in my mock
got 28/30 –

piece of piss.
I did London with
Ozymandias in

Bayonet Charge,
to fit the
abruptful adjective

into the running:
three poems better

than two.
That was the prose?



INTERNATIONAL TIMES 50th Anniversary Edition


Pleased to receive my copy today, a 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic newspaper. It is sad to receive also so soon after the death of Heathcote Williams, a weekly contributor to the online magazine and cited as ‘Editor at Large’ for this newspaper edition, as well as an article included about him:


It is an engaging read of contemporary and nostalgic articles/images. I have always enjoyed the privilege of having the occasional poem printed in the online version.

There are poems in this edition from the likes of Michael Horovitz and Adrian Mitchell, and fittingly, as well as poignantly, from Heathcote Williams with his There has to be an Afterlife.

You can order your copy here.

Shitting the Gerunds and Other Namings

gerund - Copy

Don’t get me wrong: I continue to be so impressed with the understanding and engagement of students responding to the tough, terminal, closed-book GCSE English Literature testing of this year’s cohort.

I have just read and assessed an empathetic, knowing and articulate account of a student’s understanding of having studied War poetry. This student grasped the poems’ themes with considerable independence of thought as well as display a critical appreciation of their crafting – this latter usually the more demanding to assimilate for oneself.

Then there is the relentless namings. The gerund verbs, in this repetitive case. I won’t exemplify more, and I have presented such in a more creative mode here, but this is a woeful distraction [though it does not impact on the grading]. Unless more time could be spent on expressions of appreciation rather than regurgitation, but that isn’t a real, pragmatic issue.

I am genuinely disgusted with this. What/who is responsible? Is it the Literacy Strategy? Is it the KS2 testing regime – the SPaG and now GPS element championed by ignoramuses like Schools Minister Nick Gibb? Sadly, one has to ask as well, is it the teachers? Why would any English teacher teach students to respond to poetry by an intense naming of parts? If these teachers understand how to write and how to read writing, why would they over-emphasise such superfluous – and ultimately irrelevant – feature spotting?

As any well-trained student would respond, that is a rhetorical question. It must be fear of failure, some notion that assessment objectives require such a prevalence of subject terminology naming. I get this. But surely it is time that English teachers behave like English teachers rather than technicians and stop drilling students in this level of mechanical response?

Yes, that was too. But I’m not going to name it. Just feel it, for now.