The New Poetry
He wrote his verse in smileys:
expressive punctuation, soul laid bare
in variations on the colon and parenthesis,
a kiss to make up with an asterisk,
collusion in a semi-colon wink,
sleep with one stroke, sickness with another,
death dealt with his two fingers —
the keyboard skull and crossbones,
using eight and X.
He excelled at concrete imagery:
roses made from ats and brackets,
percentages for clover.
He made the most of metaphors
on cows and monkeys,
pigs and chickens.
That year he swept the board
at all the major competitions
despite complaints from purists,
and the old guard raging
that symbols couldn’t rhyme.
But others got the point:
anything to lift the art
from dusty books and droning readings
can’t be bad. His limelight period
didn’t last, though: there were queries
about his methods, he made a hash
of his defence. Quotes
in the papers spoke of scandal —
he lost the next year’s smiley slam,
and his career just…
by Ray Templeton