Travel Poetry – 2

Travel poem number 2 about Istanbul.

I depart the shiny new tram

taste sage tea hundreds of years in the making

consumed near a Muslim graveyard,

where I espied silhouettes of crescent moons, stars

under pitch black skies.

As I dodge mutant dancing zebras,

vehicles screech to halt at the light.

Garish clothes, piled on the pavement, are sorted

by six grey men, women

the smiling trader haggles with all.

My linen shirt feels clammy, I sniff fresh orange juice.

Men rock on wooden chairs, debate

unending traffic above on the concrete flyover.

Scrawny cats wail, hiss over a discarded kebab

A welcoming dolmus awaits travellers to distant destinations.


Travel Poetry – 1

I have decided to try a new genre called Travel Poetry – I hope you like it.

Small squads of tourists heading to the palace in Kadriorg Park, each with a different photo to take,

It is a mini-Versailles according to the locals.

The President’s pink house is there for all to see




chatterers on seats,

duck watchers,

beautiful blondes dressed in black without a hair out of place even in the breeze, sitting at cafes drinking lattes and being seen.

Trams dropping off tourists who ask is this the right place?




shade and,

bright, bright sunlight illuminating the other half of my bench.

People asking is he writing about us?


Fountains playing that same endless game,

gardens reflecting in ponds, and

parents pushing strollers

This is Kadriorg Park.


Word hoards: masterpieces of concrete poetry – in pictures

Poets such as Ian Hamilton Finlay and Augusto de Campos have shaken words out of standard verse structure and rearranged them in striking, enigmatic new forms. Here are some of the teasing, amusing and vivid results

Our coastal punk poet: John Cooper Clarke on his love of seaside towns

The National Trust has commissioned the poet to write verse in praise of the coastline he has circumnavigated ‘thousands of times’ and where he first experienced the wonder of rock’n’roll

books about San Francisco

Younger and smaller than most great American cities, San Francisco has a rich cultural heritage. Anisse Gross picks out the literary landmarks of this west coastal city, from its first newspaper chroniclers to the Beats and beyond

The StrathPeffer Poetry Contest

An excerpt from this book – 40 Humourous British Traditions

The whole world knows about the Limerick, a five-line poem with a rhyming scheme of a,a,b,b,a. Fewer people have heard about the Strathpeffer, which is an eleven line poem with the rhyming scheme a, b, c, d, a, b, e, e, c, d, e. The Strathpeffer Poetry contest was founded in 1897 to make this poetry form known to a wider audience.

In this contest two schoolchildren are both asked to think of a number between one and 78. These two numbers are multiplied together and then a local Shakespeare historian, Dr Campbell Snoddy MacKenzie, finds that line number in MacBeth, who was born in the town. This line is then used as the first line of the Strathpeffer. For example Dr Snoddy MacKenzie might select the line

But screw your courage to the sticking place,

The contestants would then have to compose their Strathpfeffer within 15 minutes of the line being read out:

For example, when the above line was read out by Dr Snoddy MacKenzie in 1968 the winner was a Mrs Doris McGonagall of Dundee who wrote:

But screw your courage to the sticking place,

You know it needs an airing,

I will place mine up there too

And see how they get on

But this isn’t a race

We will be sharing

And we will enjoy the sun

It will be fun

To see the sky so blue

Hoots mon

We’ll even go for a run.

The only rules in the contest are that the poem must not contain any reference to “The Scottish Play” and must not contain any bad swear words. Poems that refer to “English bastards,” Bannockburn or Stirling Bridge will get higher marks.

An excerpt from this book – 40 Humourous British Traditions

Quiz on TS Eliot

One of the 20th century’s most influential poets, Eliot died 50 years ago this month. He often wrote of the fragility of memory, but much do you recall about his work?