Young Poet

20th February 1998 at 00:00
Vanity Street" impressed me greatly. Tom Day strips away the facade of "Sublime little people" in their "passive little houses" to reveal a forlorn world peopled by such figures as Mr Pain, Mrs Hate and Sorrow, who walks her dog in the park. I was reminded of John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" and his creation of such allegorical characters as Giant Despair. Tom's style is direct and songlike with a very natural use of irregular rhyme. I was intrigued by his vision of society and the broken lives he allows us to glimpse. "Vanity Street" is a poem for the Nineties - original, bold and compassionate.

Moniza Alvi, this term's guest poet, was born in Pakistan and brought up in Hertfordshire. She has published two collections, "The Country at My Shoulder" and "A Bowl of Warm Air".

Vanity Street

Sublime little people, live in passive little houses, on a street called vanity.

Love moved out just the other week, seemed she had to go.

Hope and Faith were the first to leave, where they went nobody knows.

It all started when we said we'd believe, and then laughed at them in the dark.

And if you look across the street right now, Sorrow's walking her dog in the park.

I don't ever think I've seen her so happy, I don't think I've ever seen her at all, ever since my mind, ran away, with me.

She's singing the same old boring song, she's been hoarse for oh, so long, but Vanity Street continues regardless.

Taking a walk down Vanity Street, Mr Pain and Mrs Hate are here, they're the only ones prospering, their little baby's due next spring.

It it's a girl they'll call her Malice, if it's a boy they'll call him Aggression.

But no one remembers their stillborn baby, they were gonna call him Depression.


Tom Day, aged 15, receives "The Country at My Shoulder" by Moniza Alvi (OUP). Submitted by Ruth Holden of Hurlingham and Chelsea School, London, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send students' poems to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY

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