John Whitworth


On Seeing Black Smoke Issuing from the Sistine Chapel during the Papal Conclave



Year of the Bears

That was the year the Fuzzy Bears,
Abandoning their wild confreres,
All set up house beneath the stairs.

Beneath the stairs they made their lairs
And lived an idyll free from cares,
Some solitaires and some in pairs.

The stairs supplied their thoroughfares
Where, jubilant as millionaires,
They flashed their sportive derrieres.

Ah, what a perfect life was theirs,
Beneath the stairs, these debonairs,
Insouciance and going shares,

Those bears, those ursine Fred Astaires,
Nectareous as boutonnieres,
Prithee, remember in your prayers

In other times and other wheres,
The bears, the bears, the Fuzzy Bears!

John Whitworth is one of those fattish, baldish, backward-looking, provincial poets in which England is so rich. His tenth collection, Girlie Gangs, was published by Enitharmon in 2012 to international acclaim. Well, Les Murray liked it. And Walter Ancarrow in America. You might also consider Writing Poetry, published by A & C Black, one of those how-to books; it has run to a second edition and is pretty good, though he (the poet) would say that, wouldn’t he? He once won £5,000 for a single poem. Listen and marvel.