Having a poem published in The Spectator is one of life’s little joys. A quiet moment of celebration with suitable alcoholic beverage. Perhaps even a phone call to friends, to go out and buy.
But thanks to these unprecedented times, my poem ‘The Man God Oil’ appeared more than a month before I actually realised (on March 28th). The always efficient Arts & Books Editor, Clare Asquith, working from home, simply couldn’t keep pace with the 3 or 4 poets per week and their needs (poetry being only one of her many responsibilities).
My poem was inspired by a visit I made to Chongqin last autumn, and the extraordinary scale of just about everything to do with China, from buildings and reproductive health to bullet trains and the 3 rivers dam. Of course, little did I know what lay round the corner.
A big thank you must go to Hugo Williams for selecting ‘The Man God Oil’. If you possibly can, do beg, steal or borrow his latest collection Lines Off (Faber) and enjoy the poise and wit of his poetry. He also chose a very clever poem by Glyn Maxwell, ‘Seven Things Wrong With the Love Sonnet’, plus ‘Berrying’ by Andre Mangeot, and ‘The Inkwell’ by Nicholas Murray.
For those of you skilled in the art of light verse, the weekly Competition, curated by Lucy Vickery, pays £25 per successful poem, and has a different challenge set each week. On March 28th, the winners included DA Prince answering the call to submit a song that we can sing instead of ‘Happy Birthday’ during hand-washing. Each week, you have ten days to write and submit from call-out to final deadline.
If you’d like to submit a small selection of your poems for possible inclusion, please send them to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP and include an SAE.