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The Young Poets – a very short Short Story

The Young Poets were going to London again. Or most of them were there already.  There was one of them, call him Cameron, who was coming down from the Hebrides.  “My father has a farm,” he told the editor. Cameron knew most everyone at the launch party anyway.  He had met them before at Oxford, at the awards ceremonies and at Leyton and Miriam’s wedding.  Leyton and Miriam were reading.  Leyton and Miriam always read. Leyton was wearing a tweed jacket.  The reviewer made a note of what a sharp dresser Leyton was. “It’s reflected in his poems,” he told Henry.  There were four Henrys there which was good because there were usually four Toms.  A few of the poets had accents but most of the other poets couldn’t quite identify where those accents were from.  The North, supposed Emily and Anna agreed.  There were two Annas. There should have been three but the third Anna was in Boston finishing her thesis.  And anyway that Anna would tell anyone who wanted to listen that anywhere north of Oxford was a mystery to her.  It kept coming back to Oxford. Or Cambridge. Or London.  One of the Bens was drunk.  He was a Welsh Ben and he was known for drinking.  All the poets got drunk but it was Ben who they remembered being drunk.  Most of the girls were pretty.  That was good, their pictures were in the book so it was better they were as beautiful as their poems.  “Her beauty is reflected in her poems,” said the reviewer about Caitlin.  Caitlin didn’t much care about her poetry.  It was her novel she really cared about.  When the lonely experimental poet, Jax he called himself, asked her who was publishing it she pretended to forget for a moment and when she said Faber she said it softly. So softly.  A painter in his sixties had come to the launch party. He was the brother of the dead artist whose work was used for the cover.  A kaleidoscope of images and colour.  That was how the reviewer described it. “The painting reflects their youth,” he told one of the Adams.  Somewhere amongst the throng of blazers, associate tutors, flowing skirts, publishing interns and the overdone casualty of beanie hats there was probably a Theo or two. There was certainly a Moses. Just one Moses.  And one Fatima.  It was good that Moses was there with his wild hair.  And the wildness of the words in his poems. Little bits of Yoruba and uncontrollable curls.  “His poems are so like his hair,” said the reviewer to Fatima, “there’s such a wild otherness to them.” In the pub afterwards one of the Hannahs read her poem, the one about the virgin becoming an otter, to the barman to see if she could get the round for free.  The barman, a Northerner named Seth, told her he was writing a novel. She asked, “Do you like my poem?  “Yes,” he said but he still made her pay for the round. “It’s rather unfair,” said one of the Kates. On the Tube home, Leyton and Miriam were kissing while one of the Henrys wrote a sestina on his iphone.  When the Henry got off at Brixton he had made up his mind that the poem would be called “Song for Youth” because everything and everyone felt so young.  The editor had hoped to feel someone young but no one would share his taxi with him. In the middle of the night the reviewer woke up.  He sat naked at his desk and typed This country is being born again through struggle and austerity.  He paused and stroked his stomach. But the New Youth are here, he typed, and their vibrancy, their need to rebuild poetry and create a New New Poetry, is reflected in the energy of this collection. Buy it now or risk missing out on life.  When Cameron got home to his father’s farm he walked up to the hill behind their farmhouse and watched dusk burn the light from the day. He listened to a calf crying for its mother and thought of what the agent had said to him. “Listen Cameron,” the agent had said, “I can call you Cameron can’t I?”  Cameron lied and told the agent that was fine. “You’re better suited to cows,” said the agent, “you’ll never have to worry about whether a cow scans or if a pail of milk has the right number of syllables.  Stick with cows, Cameron, stick with cows.”

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About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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