Now           Then                        RayBaker          POET????????
Do you Measure A Poet In Meters Or Feet ?
Do you feel as I do about poetry? That's if poetry is the correct term for the verses that I write. I feel guilty of deception when people refer to me as a poet. Some years ago, my son Laurie bought me a book on writing poetry (Was he trying to tell me something?) which I found quite interesting, until I came to the part about Iambic Metre and Feet etc.
After some thought I decided to leave the technical approach to the professionals, and continue to do what comes naturally, that is to write whatever comes to my mind. If my verses are not easy to read, or seem disjointed, I rephrase one or more lines to rectify the matter. My first attempt at writing verse, was for use as a commentary on a video recording that I made in 1992, of HRH the Duke of Gloucester opening an extension to a factory where I worked. I was encouraged by the complimentary comments of the fifty odd employees, who purchased copies of the tape,

My wife, whose hobby was breeding and showing dogs, persuaded me to write and enter a poem for an anthology about dogs. Being the owner of twenty-three collies, that was an easy task, surprisingly it was accepted or leastwise, twenty-two of the eighty lines submitted. Thus encouraged I wrote an average of ten thousand words of verse in each of the following three years. After that initial surge, due to my wife being ill with Alzheimer's disease, I had more important things to occupy my mind,.therefore no inclination to write.

Many of my poems are records of my own experiences and observations, therefore too long for publication in anthologies. Several of my poems, which have been published, are extracts from longer works. After listening to professional poets discussing the structure and interpretation of their works, I have concluded that I am not realy a poet, as the verses which I write can be enjoyed without either interpretation or analysis. I am not being critical of those who hold other views, but I get little pleasure from poems, which need explanation, and still less from those open to various interpretations. I think that a poem should be the out-pouring of the poet's thoughts, in a straightforward and rhythmic form which is easy for anybody to understand regardless of their academic standards. To enjoy a poem I do not need to analyse its structure.

I can confirm what you probably suspected after having read thus far. Yes I am an uneducated old fool, seventy-seven years to be precise. Uneducated? True, due to having missed an examination at the primary school, I was forced to spend my first two years at secondary school in the form reserved for children incapable of learning, then being in hospital for three months out of the last two years I learned very little at that school.My first job was apprentice in the grocery trade, being paid twenty-five pence a week.

On outbreak of war I trained as a welder, working in a London war factory during the Blitz, and spent two nights a week manning antiaircraft rocket projectors on Wormwood Scrubs as a member of "Dad's Army".Although I was in a reserved occupation, I succeeded in joining the army when the REME was first formed in1942 and I was demobbed in 1947, whilst serving in Germany with the famous 7th Armoured Division (The Desert Rats). On returning to Civvy Street I was employed as foreman in a small shipyard, prior to starting my own motor engineering business.

My interest in poetry is comparatively recent. I can remember my mother telling me as a child, that she had a poem published when she was a young girl, in the late 1800s, but I was not sufficiently interested to ask what it was about; I wish I had. My only involvement with poetry prior to the 1990s was in the early 1930s. I was pressured into agreeing to recite alternate verses of a poem, at a Sunday school prize giving. I think the poem was entitled "The Little Drummer Boy". It was a real tearjerker, One line early in the poem went ( "It was on the field of Gettysburg , wounded sore he lay"). And the last verse finished with the words ("Tell mother not to cry for me, for I'm not coming home"). Shortly before the big day I learned that my fellow performer had not learned any of his verses, and I was expected to fill in the gaps.The nights lay awake trying to purge that epic poem from my mind are only exceeded by those I have spent trying to recall any of the words apart from those quoted above.
I've often wondered whether the dearth of dry eyes, was due to the content, or my rendering of that poem.

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