The Multicoloured Man

20th June 1997 at 01:00
The man is red in the red room.

The man is green in the green garden.

The man is black in the dark.

The man is pink near me.

The man is blue in the water.

He is blue near the sea.

The man is white in the clouds.

The man is yellow when lightning strikes.

The man is brown near a wooden door.

The man is a blur so you can't see him any more.

The man is multicoloured.

So that is the multicoloured man.


Mark Skinner's intriguing poem caught my attention for its wit and its suggestiveness. The powerful images are underlined by colour and the poem moves vigorously towards the mysterious blur at the end. I feel the last two lines are not quite up to the strength of the rest, but it's a common problem. Writers often try to round off a poem when, in fact, a more open ending is what's needed. Trust your reader. You don't always have to sum up.

Mark Skinner, aged 9, receives Fatso in a Red Suit by Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Submitted by John Dale of Woodthorpe county primary school, York, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teachers' notes. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 2133. Jo Shapcott is the Poetry Society's poet on the Internet:

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