December 19th, 2011

breaking bad

Christmas poetry read by Sheila Hancock

A friend just emailed me this morning to say she heard Sheila Hancock reading UA Fanthorpe's Christmas poems on Radio 4, and recommended I listen online. I haven't heard that program yet, but I thought that's something poetry lovers on my f-list might like. BC:AD is an example of UA Fanthorpe's Christmas writing:
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

It's a fairly mainstream religious poem. My friend is a Quaker, and she tells me Shelia Hancock is too. I saw Hancock in the Young Adult drama Just Henry last night, where she played Henry's grandma. She reminded me of my own grandma - proud and courageous and a bit inflexible.
breaking bad

Hitchens

Here's another good poem I want to link to. Part of rozk's elegy to Christopher Hitchens, this section in the style of Kipling's Tommy.
... when killing brown civilians is the order of the day
you need someone who'll quote Camus for surprising modest pay

Oh it's dandy English stylist
with morals far too loose
but it's thank you Mr Hitchens
when there's peaceniks to abuse.

I'll line up Martin Amis and Salman to the fight
Orwell would have agreed with us, 'coz he was always right
Don't think that I'll add Austen or De Beauvoir to the mix
I only talk of girls when I slag off the Dixie Chicks

Read the whole thing

It's clever but also thoughtful, and not sure if I have quoted enough to make it clear it's not taking a simple stand for or against the exasperating old git. And that's probably what I feel most about Hitchens - that I don't have one point of view on the man. I've seen him take some pompous dull oaf to pieces because he was a million times smarter, and I'm like 'Go, team brainy!' But then he was a pompous oaf himself, and all that 'women aren't funny, war is great, pass the wine'.

Anyway, the poem is certain to get a wide audience I should think. Here are parts one and two which precede that section.