Another family of stocking filler/stand-up poems is the stereotype poem. Another workshop task I’ve enjoyed, too. The first one I remember was one set up by Peter Sansom, the invitation being to write about a group of people entirely through the medium of generalisations, stereotypes and downright lies.
I think I’d recently been to Beverley folk festival for the weekend. Curiously, I’ve performed this particular poem at Beverley , and in loads of folk clubs….and the thing is, I’m invariably asked by folk if they can have a copy. People like it, and very often they could well be in the poem. I think it was Swift who said that ‘Satire is a Glass in which men see all men’s Features but their own’
There’s a companion piece to this called ‘Literary Festival Folk’ but there’s no way I’d ever post it. I’m also reminded that Bob Horne wrote one about his times at the Cambridge Folk Festival. It’s a much kinder one than mine. Maybe I should ask him if he’ll share it.
Folk festival folk:
They work in council housing departments
and sing sad songs of flooded seams and firedamp,
poss-tubs, pinnies, lockouts ,blacklegs,
Or tutors in evening classes
who know The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens,
and Matty Groves by heart; they sing without
accompaniment. And slow. And flat. They never miss
a verse. They sing the chorus after every
one, bring unimagined nuances to
the meaning of interminable.
Some sell insurance; or work in call centres,
and sing , at length, about the whaling,
silver darlings, foundering trawlers, ice;
shawled fisherwives on shivering wharves
gazing at the widowing sea.
They drink real ale (the men), are
overweight and thin on top (long at back and sides);
their wives once looked, a bit, (they hoped) like Joan Baez;
they cultivate split ends, and henna.
They believe that all real folk songs
were writ on tablets of millstone grit
brought down from the moors
by Mike Harding and Eliza Carthy
and that Kate Rusby is the Second Coming
They wear, without discrimination,
cheesecloth, tie-dye, leather waistcoats;
regardless of the cold,or drizzle: sandals.
They run to seed, self-righteously. Own tents.
Their children dream of days at Alton Towers,
junk food, Playstations, X Boxes
and hanging out. Instead, are herded into
story-telling workshops; they are quiet,
and subdued, and, often, pale.
Secretly, they harbour visions
of a terrible revenge.
Something should be diddly-done about it.