My name is Jonathan Pinnock and I am a poet. There, I’ve said it. Anyone who has a problem with this can leave the room now (apart from my family, who I’ll make an exception for – even though they do indeed find it acutely embarrassing). I’ve been struggling against this for a while, ever since I stumbled into writing poetry again a couple of years or so ago, partly because it’s not the kind of thing that a grown-up bloke does and partly because my complete lack of training makes me feel like a complete amateur. (If any of this sounds familiar, you’ve obviously been reading Stephen Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled”, where he makes the exact same points, albeit far more eloquently than me.)
However, I don’t feel that I can keep up the pretence of being a non-poet any longer, now that I have apparently won first prize in the JBWB Spring competition with my piece “Moving On”. I originally wrote this for the final round of last year’s Whittaker competition in a kind of elegaic mood and I think it’s one of my favourite poems – even though the Whittaker judges didn’t care for it that much (along with the judges for a couple of other competitions, in fact). See what you think, anyway. Here it is.
As it happens, I also clocked up a shortlisting in the short story section of the same competition. This was for a piece that used to be called “A New Man”, which I originally wrote for a VWC internal competition and then adapted for one of the rounds of the last Eurofiction but two. Since then I’ve sent it all over the place and hardly got a sniff, apart from a near-miss at Liars’ League. But before I sent it off to JBWB I had an inspiration, and I decided to make the title a bit more interesting. So that’s how it came to be called “How I Became a New Man and What Good It Did Me”. Never underestimate the power of a title, eh? Here it is. (Incidentally, I think that means that I’ve now placed nine out of the ten piece that I did for my first-ever Eurofiction competition.)
One final thought about poetry. One of the many things I saw whilst I was in India that made me fall in love with the place was an advert for the Commonwealth Games to be held there later on this year. What I loved was that one of the celebs who was giving his endorsement was described as a screenwriter, lyricist and poet. Can you imagine that ever happening in the UK? What was it Mahatma Gandhi said when asked what he thought about Western culture? That it would be a good idea?