Young poet

4th February 2000 at 00:00
Anna Durant, 17, York sixth form college, York

I never feel more relaxed

more strong than when I am inside


You have the power to keep me safe

from pollution, abuse, strangers and the cold.

You're heavy enough to be

comfortable. Your pockets are as deep

as the sea and each day I find

a new surprise.

If I am without you I find the day

and the world to be hard.

Only your fine

black acetate between,

no friction.

Teamed with a scarf, I am unstoppable.

Give me a hat and I could take

on the world.

Poems aren't puzzles, but there's a certain pleasure in a poem being confident enough not to spell it out. There's a pleasure, for that matter, in a poet having the confidence to write about, and indeed to, a coat. We gather it's an overcoat: that surprising observation that something heavy can be comfortable. And the nice balance between realism and metaphor: those pockets, for instance, "deepas the sea". I admire the quirky naturalness of the language and the way the main idea develops. I gess this is an early draft (isn't it asking to be recast slightly, re-lined perhaps into quatrains?); but I like the way the poem manages to be both personal and universal. This coat speaks about those times when we need an "ally", when it seems to be just us against the world. I believe those last lines, even though they're delivered lightly. the poet feels embattled and I like her attitude in taking this amused but serious stand for herself.

Peter Sansom

Anna Durant receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by teachers Bridget Vincent and Mo Nisbett . Peter Sansom has published the handbook, Writing Poems, with Bloodaxe. His third Carcanet collection, partly about his Poetry Society Marks and Spencer residency, is published this year. Please send poems, not more than 20 lines, to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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