Any writer is an optimist. Why? Number one: they think they’ll finish their book. Number two: they think somebody will publish it. Number three: they think somebody will read it. That’s a lot of optimism.       (Margaret Attwood in a recent interview.)

I was about to give up on Animate and inanimate objects relating to J Abraham. It has been sent to at least a dozen magazines and competitions in the last few years. I know one or two editors who don’t like prose poems and don’t publish them. But I like the piece, it’s quirky and I have grown attached to it, so I sent it along with three poems to Carole Baldock, editor of Orbis – a quality UK poetry magazine. I had two poems accepted in 2014, but not submitted since. Just had an email acceptance!

The piece consists of short monologues by, respectively, the favourite mug, the handkerchief, the ashtray, the moustache, and the newspaper cutting. It came out my decluttering before I downsized a few years ago.

There are echoes of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem 12 O’ Clock News. This prose poem is in the form of a report of an alien territory: the gooseneck lamp becomes the full moon, the typewriter is an escarpment, a pile of manuscripts is a landslide, and so on. I fancy that Bishop wrote the poem when she was having a bout of writer’s block. It is a witty, humorous piece that must have been hiding in my subconscious for a long time. Here is part of Bishop’s report:

From our superior vantage point, we can clearly see into a sort of dugout, possibly a shell crater, a “nest” of soldiers. They lie heaped together, wearing the camouflage “battle dress” intended for “winter warfare”. They are in hideously contorted positions, all dead. We can make out at least eight bodies.

That’s the ashtray again…



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