Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

Am I A Poet? - Poem by Michael Shepherd

Dunno about you (that’s why
I’m writing this poem) but
it’s the noun thing, ‘poet’: as if
you’re simultaneously committing yourself
for life to something – although
you would love to do it for life,
it’s somehow got
public connotations.

A good place to test the word
is a party – if you make some pleasantry
and the lady’s eyes brighten and she says
‘That’s very poetic..’ you’d be mad
not to continue the conversation…

So ‘poetic’ is OK, . It’s
environmentally friendly,

however ‘I write poetry’ –
is risky. Men feel challenged;
they know they wouldn’t read your book
even if you gave it to them, signed; so
they respond in career-advice mode
with ‘and do you make any money
by it? ’ or even a straight
‘are you any good? ’ or
simply assume you’re out of work
and unemployable; whatever,
they’ll do that English thing
of looking carefully at your clothes..
and go into their practiced
about-to-move-away mode

Women however are different: especially
if you risk the full-on ‘I’m a poet…’
they’ll do an instant calculation –
he’s discreetly promiscuous, that means
safe, so do I fancy him? Probably out of work, but hey
that’s always useful in an afternoon lover…
However for them, at a party
it promises a more interesting conversation
than ‘I’m a merchant banker, not
very interesting I’m afraid ha ha’
so at least they ask questions
and you may well bring them around

though ladies in rather look-at-me attire
who instantly respond ‘Yes,
so am I! ! ’ with enthusiasm are to be very carefully
summed up before you risk this claim
of poet; it can be like
being smothered by
an emotional jellyfish;
better just say ‘I write poetry’,
it’s less committing; you can always
retreat from the claim as if
it was a passing phase when younger

but if the lady, or the gentleman,
replies with a twinkle in their eye,
Yes, so do I, but
I don’t tell anyone …! ’ a merry
conversation should ensue…

I’m currently using ‘I write poetry
on the internet…’ which is
non-threatening, almost interesting,
and doesn’t involve
any commitment on their part
to buy your book or anything

My recommendation is,
try these phrases out at home,
with a mirror, preferably full-length
(body-language can be so revealing)
and see which makes you cringe
or even fills you with inspiring confident pride

However all this may be
a generation thing; ‘lyric-writers’ for popnrock
must have all this sussed,
beating off the offers
of one sort or another.
He said.

Comments about Am I A Poet? by Michael Shepherd

  • (7/23/2006 1:43:00 PM)

    Sounds like you get out a hell of a lot more than I do, Mikey! ! !

    So when and where is the next Poem Punter get-together going to be, and who will be coming?
    (Report) Reply

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  • Brian Dorn (7/23/2006 12:51:00 PM)

    Michael, I think 'poets' are kind of like super heros... sometimes it's better to keep our true identity a secret. Clever write! !
    (Report) Reply

  • (7/23/2006 10:17:00 AM)

    Michael, for those recommendations to D, I do not feel appreciative. And will spank you. Especially the full-length mirror bit... gawd, I can see I'm never going to have time there myself. But seriously, you're right about the distinctions between the sexes on the 'poetry' response to the party-yawn question 'what do you do? '. (Though that's usually from those women whose poetry extends to 'Mary had a little lamb'. etc and men who feel instantly threatened by the possibility that such a man might actually be more romantic than them) . But anyway... you are, as ever right; and you did, as ever, finely write this insightful and all too true piece. t x (Report) Reply

  • (7/23/2006 10:08:00 AM)

    Very good, and I enjoyed the gender switch...funny. (Report) Reply

  • (7/23/2006 9:58:00 AM)

    Michael, as sagely entertaining as ever. Labels are so popular. Just look in the shops! Another fine work. Thank you. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, July 23, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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