I’d like to say a public thank you to Gill Stoker at the Mary Evans Picture Library for inviting me to write a poem inspired by one of the photographs held in their archive. I chose ‘London Pubs at Closing Time’, mainly because I loved the expression on the face of ‘The Duchess’ (left of frame). I created a found poem exploring the idea of voice and blurring the boundary between past and present. Depending on the sources, found texts can really lend themselves to this. I also used lines from my own writing. Somewhere along the way, between moving bits of cut-up text around on the kitchen table, sticking them in my notebook, then typing them up, the poem achieved its form.
You can read the poem below. Better still, click here to read it on the library’s poetry blog, where you can find some amazing contributions by other poets. Of the more recent ones, I really enjoyed Natan Barreto’s ‘To read a language / Ler uma lingua’.
It’s certainly worth looking at the library’s archive. It’s easy to search through and there’s a wide range of both historical and cinema images. If you feel inspired to write something in response, contact the library as they welcome new contributions.
I feel like we can talk about anything
like 90% of poetry isn’t of any value
like one man especially was attracted to me
like solitude and time alone are unavoidable
like the terrifying reality of Saturday night
like there are people who move in a very humble sphere
like you are whoever they want you to be
like I’m here to prove you can do it differently
like from the first time I set eyes on him
like no one ever challenged me on the dress code
like I prefer the imagination to the real
like there was something truthful behind his stare
like after midnight the pub is a refuge
like what if anything has changed for women
like single is a relative term
like some people hinder me from growing anyway