Advice re Elephants

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Revision as of 16:44, 19 June 2014 by Jonathan (talk | contribs) (Notes)
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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 hugely entertaining, if somewhat lacking in poetic devices", and that it "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 piece 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 was real, 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.