Virginia Barton

15 July 2013: The poetry game

15 July 2013


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The trouble with poetry is that it has to come into your head virtually ready-made. You can’t just pluck a line out of nowhere and tag on a few rhymes. Well you can of course, but I don’t think much good will come of it in the way of a poem.

My godmother used to keep us busy on a prematurely dark evening, say mid-November, by playing this game. She would throw a line at us with the challenge to make a poem of it.

One I remember, the only one actually, went:  “I took a knife and killed my cat to make a coat for Pidge.” (More of Pidge on another occasion.) I daresay T.S. Eliot could have made something of it, perhaps when he’d had enough of Rumpleteazer et al, but my contribution was rubbish.

Go on, have a go, toss a line out to your friends at your next dinner party and see what happens.


Years ago I wrote heaps of poetry, the sort you blush to re-read years later. The only stuff I can bear to even look at you’ll find on this website. There are four of them I think: In the Park, JR2-7C, Cornmarket, and In the Pink. A pathetic legacy for someone who once upon a time fancied herself as a poet!

Another poem has joined the quartet. This one came as a “first line ready-made” at three in the morning, 36 hours after the death of a most beloved sister. Its title is Bluebells.







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