Roger McGough at British Telecommunications

March 2000

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Greetings from this technonovice dipping his toes into the www thanks to BT.

In the words of fellow poet Wendy Cope, I am a TUMP..ie, a Totally Useless Male Poet...one who can't drive, mend a fuse, type, or needless to say, use a PC. However, in the interests of poetry and our mutual desire for better communications, I will give it my all (or, at least bits of my all).

Regarding that old, hot and difficult chestnut...(We could be talking about me here), what constitutes a poem? The best answer seems to be that a poem is a matter of intention. In other words, if someone determines to write a poem, as opposed to a letter, a shopping-list, or a novel, then the result will be a poem. Whether it is a 'good' poem (ie original, effective, moving or witty) is a value-judgement that others will make. But a word of caution and reassurance here.... I remember showing my first literary efforts to people yonks ago, and though their reactions varied from the puzzled to the downright abusive, I decided that self-belief was vital and that practise makes, if not perfect, a more contented poet.

Poetry like every other skill needs honing, and every poet I know will tell you that very rarely will a poem wake you up in the middle of the night, fully written, or strike you on a mountain walk like a bolt of benevolent lightning. It is usually a matter of writing, rewriting, editing and then rewriting. But a process that is exciting, exciting and exciting.

Can I leave you with a poem: it's a downsized version of Wordsworth's most famous ode.

Wandering along the road
by the lake, I saw a load
of golden daffodils
Ten thousand, give or take.

Now and then
I think of them again.

Your trusty BT poet, Roger McGough