Acumen: Issue 63
Published by Acumen
Nature and Place
Profile of Geoffrey Godbert
The web and literary standards
and the usual fascinating responses and reviews.
It’s not very often that, as an editor living in a way-off-the-beaten-track place like Brixham, I get a poem inspired by a newspaper headline that features Brixham. So imagine my surprise when I received TerenceReid’s poem Loo with a View.
The local paper had been full of the idea of building a restaurant (not just a cafe) over the toilet-block on one of the local beaches. The views across Torbay would be stunning indeed! But I had thought it was very much a local argument for and
against the proposal. But, no, several national papers had picked up on the news item and run a version of it: mainly using the generic term Torbay which covers three towns, not just Brixham. Now whether Terence knew I lived near where this superloo was proposed or not, it certainly made me sit up and it was just too much of a co-incidence for me not to publish the poem (see p.76).
Do other extraneous factors help decide choice of poems I wondered? Well, I can remember having quite a sad issue a few years ago when I’d been choosing poems after a family funeral; a rash of ‘alzheimer’ poems when I heard within days that two residents in our small block of six cottages had been diagnosed with dementia; and travel poems abound when I’ve just been to a new place on the globe that has aroused my interest. Yet none of this is done consciously.
I think the poets who wrote these poems didn’t, themselves, consciously set out to write a poem about death, or about travel etc. They probably had a feeling and wanted to write about it in some way which would transfer that feeling to the reader. How many times have you read a poem and felt the emotion underlying it come through strongly: a poem ostensibly about a garden, say, was about loneliness, or beauty, or about sorrow, or sin even! (Perhaps that last example is an obvious one).
So what was Terence trying to say about Torbay’s obsession with loos: that it should have been confined to the local paper? Or that a loo with a view is a good idea? I wonder...?