What shouldn’t you do if you plan to pursue an interest in poetry? Never wear a velvet smoking jacket or a beard. Okay, Ginsberg had a real faceful, but rest assured that a beard doth not a poet make.
“If you can understand it, it isn’t poetry – it’s verse. And if it is poetry, it is probably about love, rejection and death. Now let’s get properly started.”
“Be warned: very few of Shakespeare’s poems, or anybody else’s for that matter, have happy endings.”
“Jongleur: reciter of licentious and merry metrical tales. Has always lacked career prospects as a profession.”
Nick Yapp first became aware of poetry when he had to learn some as punishment at school. Much moved by the experience, and swamped with thoughts of Love, Suffering, Death and Toffees, he subsequently wrote a great deal of verse, but has stopped all that since he became a grown-up and retired from teaching to become a full-time writer.
His favourite poets are Keats, Betjeman, Harry Graham and (most of all) William McGonagall. He has found it wise to keep quiet about all this, for poetry lovers are not much respected in south-east London where he lives with his poetry books (bought 30 years ago in case he was given more punishment).
Richard Meier is the winner of the inaugural Picador Poetry Prize and is the author of Misadventure (Picador, 2012). He attended Chetham’s School of Music where he made up the numbers alongside some proper musicians. Richard now lives in London with his wife and two young children and has been known to write as many as three words a week. He sometimes plays the piano, and more frequently plays cricket – not necessarily at the same time.
If you can understand it, it isn’t poetry – it’s verse. And if it is poetry, it is probably about love, rejection and death. Now let’s get properly started.