Advice re Elephants

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Revision as of 08:00, 20 June 2014 by Jonathan (talk | contribs) (Performances)
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Advice re Elephants was originally written for was originally written for Round Nine of the 2010 Whittaker Prize, albeit in the poetry section. No prompt was used. It was given a score of 86/100 by the judge, Catherine Edmunds, putting it 11th out of 19 entrants. The judge commented that it was somewhat lacking in poetic devices and would work just as well as a prose piece. I took her advice.


Duly reworked as a short story, Advice re Elephants was shortlisted for the 2010 Seán Ó Faoláin Competition, judged by Tania Hershman.


After a small amount of editing to overcome a minor ambiguity, Advice re Elephants was published in Metazen on March 14th, 2011.


I've read this on many occasions, as it seems to work well as a live piece. The first time was at Sparks in Brighton on November 2nd, 2011.


This is another of those pieces, like Frogs, where I've taken a metaphor and treated it as if it were a real thing, to see where the logic of that took me. It can be quite a fruitful line of enquiry.

This is what the original poem looked like, by the way:

There was no mistaking it. An
elephant had parked itself
in our living space.
To be precise, it was an
African elephant. I knew this
because of the ears.

I asked her what we were going
to do about it, and the answer
was along the lines of
just get rid of the fucking thing
before it dumps any more shit
on the carpet.

So I did what any man would do
and Googled. This was the advice that
I was given when I asked for
suggestions as to what to do about
an elephant in the room:

Take a deep breath and climb
aboard. Speak reassuring words
into its ear and then urge it
to charge

through the walls onto the plain,
then ride it to the water hole
and lie down and watch the sunset
amid the warthogs and baboons

and when the sky is dark,
make wild animalistic love
to that woman next to you
(remember her?) and then
fall asleep together
beneath the twinkling stars.

As we breakfasted next day
in the ruins of our cottage,
I reflected that the advice
you find on the Internet
is often quite surprising.