(Sept. 2001) Page 5
My ambition was always to be a writer and the die was truly cast by winning a competition in the Shrewsbury Chronicle when aged about ten. The prize was either five pounds or two pounds ten shillings, a fortune to a child in those days. That was the only prize writing has ever won me, in fact I can't recall entering a competition since.
After leaving school, several years were spent "finding myself" or finding ways of avoiding responsibility before imminent fatherhood made me look for a proper job. During that time my first "paid for" works were published and I could be found performing poetry anywhere people were silly enough to stand still. Later, as the world of poetry, having ventured into the sunlight during the sixties and early seventies, began to retreat to the shadowy half world usually occupied by occultists, conspiracy theorists and fallen political leaders my stories and articles were featured on BBC Radio and in respectable, nationally known newspapers and magazines. I also contributed to comedy sketches to a long forgotten Radio Show.
As an accidental career in Information Technology took off, writing and performing was pushed more into the background. In 1985 my life came to a crossroads. Having moved from a performance poet who did funny links to a stand - up comic who worked with verse I had to choose between becoming a full time performer earning £50 in a good week or taking my first consultancy assignment and earning £500 every week. With a family and a mortgage there was no option and that was how it looked like continuing until I retired.
Disabled by a severe brain haemorrhage in 1997, have been recovering and writing since. Most of the poetry published here and on my website is previously unpublished although some originates from much earlier in my life. I never saw a lot of point in putting any effort into getting published in small circulation magazines and slim volumes destined to be remaindered a day after publication, to me (and I'm going to damn myself to perdition in the eyes of the literary establishment now) poetry is entertainment and if we cannot engage an audience beyond the small world of literary academics we are failing. Speaking personally, a round of applause from the punters in a Manchester pub is more of a buzz than a positive review in any literary magazine, because it means I have made contact with the people I live among and write for.
At the moment I am awaiting a call from a literary agent who I hope will tell me that the publisher she is hassling on my behalf has finally agreed to publish my first novel, Schlocky's. I have two more in the can and am getting impatient.
Currently I am preparing two collections of verse, Two Faced Poet and Reminiscing with a Stranger for web release. This will happen as soon as I'm confident of secure copyright. I am also intending to put a few short stories online and hope to launch a satirical magazine, HEADBUTT. This is humour with attitude. I want to create something akin to the ambience of early National Lampoon. A preview should be online by early September, contributors welcome.
I have not written much here about my disabling illness and how it changed everything. My memoirs of recovery are available to download FREE (no catch*) on my own website http://ianthorpe.airtime.co.uk. Don't be scared, it is not heavy going, in fact most readers have remarked on how funny it is. That's flattering to me because I tackled the problems with humour and set out to portray that as a vital aspect of mental recovery. I hope many people will find encouragement in it, not just those dealing with similar problems. The central message is "Take Control of Your Life whatever the circumstances."
* A publisher showed interest in this book as a commercial proposition but what they wanted me to do was so tacky it would have ruined what I was trying to achieve.
© Ian Thorpe
We lived in cages, you and I,
Seeing each other as shadows
in a place with no light.
We stood reaching out,
our fingers almost meeting,
faces pressed to cold iron,
but people who held keys told us
contact was against the rules.
The others there all lived in cages
and did not complain.
When everyone is imprisoned
imprisonment is freedom of a kind
for those who can surrender.
Each day we reached,
almost touched. Almost....
Did our fingers ever meet,
did the glow we made light
our faces or was it just a trick
of my imagination that
burned your image on my mind.
I could not if I tried
forget the hunger in your eyes.
My flesh still imagines
the passion of your touch.
Perhaps my sterile love stays
with you now. But I am gone,
and you live in a different cage.
(*This started life as a song. I was trying to work with a musician and we produced a couple of decent middle - of - the - road efforts but being a fan of bands like Spandau Ballet he found most of my work too dark. I guess this lyric came out of me having a Leonard Cohen or Jaques Brel day.)
You came to me in mourning with a bouquet in your hand
I was walking in a garden where the flowers had all died
I left you naked in the moonlight like some martyr on a hill
A great bird soars,
cruciform against an
Below its shadow falls
upon small lives.
The small things cower
and beg the earth
to hide them but
the bird sees all and
watches 'til a whim
strikes and a small life,
A toy life, must end.
The bird swoops,
claws close, flesh tears
a body arches in death,
a tiny cry announces.
all is safe for a time.
Small lives carry on
until the shadow that gives
and takes life falls again.
I could tell the kind of girl she was
From the plain way that she dressed.
No frills, nothing fancy
Just Jeans and Cotton Vest.
Careful not to patronise
I asked her for a date,
Telling her she seemed the type
To whom I could relate.
I met her primed for conversation.
She turned up wearing black,
Her dress was slit way up the thigh
And plunged deep at the back.
I talked of Kierkegaad and Kant,
She flirted with her eyes.
One - sided conversation was
Punctuated by her sighs.
Later, in her flat, she sprawled
across the bed for me,
Dressed in satin lingerie
She looked a perfect fantasy.
I said "Let's review our motivations,"
She screamed "You're so unkind."
"I'm feeling really horny but
You only want me for my mind."
Jan Sand in New York
Recently Jan was published by Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, on their latest CD ROM e-book, "A Way With Words (Poetry Real and Surreal), which also includes complete books by Dale Houstman, Sara L. Russell and Keith Gabriel Hendricks. Jan's illustrated book on the CD is called "Wild Figments And Odd Conjectures", which is also sold separately, in a limited-edition "single" CD.
To see an illustrated article about Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter. He also has his own poetry pages on Charlotte's Web at Artvilla.
THE ARTIST AS TRAVELER IN TIME|
© Jan Sand
Could I move through time the way I tread space
I would no more attempt to resee Caesar
Than stroll from Brooklyn out to Central Asia.
But within the tight neighborhood of my life
There are many things I would unknot and redo.
This then is the trap of traveling through time.
So a painter can revise, rethink, realign
The canvas as a total surface, so would we,
To attain a perfect life, analyze and reconsider,
Readjust each small component,
Remove a second here, a minute there,
Devise new particles of time and consequence,
Cement them tight into place.
We would become purists and at end,
Relate all to all.
It might be we could be satisfied by just one perfect moment.
All else wiped away, that moment erect in eternity .
A crystal dewdrop poised upon a green blade of summer grass
Glistening in the momentary glance of a summer sun.
Of what worth
Is this Earth?
This rolling rock
Where humans flock
To gather up the sun
Which on its yearly spinning run
Makes seeds and leaves and flesh and fish.
They eat the sun from every dish
And perish then to feed the Earth
That different life may then give birth.
The sun falls down to bring to life
The salty seas, the dry land's wife
Which strokes the land's coastal sides
Swaying with the Moon in tides.
Who would buy this rotten stone
Flecked with green and black and bone
Like a giant Roquefort cheese
Jumping with its human fleas?
Perhaps some cosmic housewife shopping
Looking for a salad topping
Munching on a moon or two
Needing something more to chew.
There was no word
At the start
For no mouth there was
with primal cause
With facile tongue.
No mind stirred
To make that word.
There was no word
Because no lung
Was there to pump a breath
And demonstrate that deadly death
Could begin its fatal run
When first time had begun.
There was no life
There was no Sun
There was no light
There was no dark.
There was, perhaps,
An ancient spark,
A tiny spot.
And from this spot
All was begot.
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