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Poetry Pleases: Errant Apostrophes

...There is one field in which exclamation marks proliferate -
in the manuscripts of indifferent writers.
I used to think it was an attempt to give their words impact.
But now Iím not so sure. Perhaps they hope the down stroke
hovering over the point
will scare it into staying put...

John Cooper is one of those rare poets with the power to make you laugh, cry and emit a loud "YES'' of joyful approval and agreement.

Read and enjoy this poem from his recently published book Unreliable Judgements.

Lately, Iíve spotted apostrophes sidling off the page.
I fix them with a stare but it doesnít stop them.
Off they scuttle, joined by inverted commas, easily led.
At grammar school, there was great emphasis on discipline.
Punctuation marks behaved themselves.
Nowadays, you darenít take your eyes off a hyphen for a second.
Commas are the worst culprits,
disappearing by the dozen.

When writing in shorthand, there is less need for vigilance.
Full stops are ring fenced so they know their place.
They canít just bugger off.
Pitman was a pioneer in the field of punctuation containment.

There is one field in which exclamation marks proliferate -
in the manuscripts of indifferent writers.
I used to think it was an attempt to give their words impact.
But now Iím not so sure. Perhaps they hope the down stroke
hovering over the point
will scare it into staying put.

Since word processing arrived,
some tutors have to cope with manuscripts
totally devoid of punctuation.
It has all disappeared down the drain,
a kind of colonic irrigation maybe.
And yesterday, after a hard morning replacing truant apostrophes,
I glimpsed a spectral image jerking out of vision
across the page. It darted off when I tried to stare it down.
When I started again, it ghosted back to annoy.
I wonder if Kerouac and Ginsberg had these problems.

**

Do visit John's Web site www.poetissimus.com which contains information on where to buy the book.

**

Peter Hinchliffe, Open Writing editor says:

John and I go back a long, long way. We were educated at the same grammar school in the Yorkshire mill and mining town, Dewsbury.

We began our journalistic careers in that town. We once collaborated in writing an article for a Christmas publication.

Here's the difference though. I was never anything more than a hack journalist. John is that rarest of rare creatures, a brilliant and highly readable poet.

Now I feel proud to come from the same town as John, and to be able to say that I knew him when he was nobbut a lad.

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