Young poet

13th October 2000 at 01:00
He is still, in the laboratory jungle,

Lazing and docile, he remains still,

Trying, failing to catch up with the world,

But he is still, slow, steady and slothful,

A beaker has smashed in his jungle,

He is passive, collected and peaceful,

With his eerily chilling glare, ice cold,

You are frozen, a glacier of science,

Yet underneath his lounging profile,

He is intelligent, awake, aware,

He tells no-one about his other side,

(he is) secretive, stealthy (and) private.

James Hodgson, Year 10, Ripley St Thomas high school, Lancaster

James has used an unusual style for this poem, choosing not to use full stops, preferring commas to give a more meandering rhythm.

The poem draws you into the reptilian world of the science lab (James wrote the poem about his science teacher) with the constant emphasis on the stillness and slowness of the manlizard.

I like the way James builds on the initial stillness with a series of related characteristics to show the lizard's ability to remain immobile.

James has created a landscape around the science lab - dominated by this all-powerful creature, which cannot even be disturbed by a beaker smashing. The poem turns the man into an almost mythical being - giving him the power to freeze normalhumans with just a stare.

In turn, this creates a timelessness around the subject. There is a suggestion of creation tales, evolution - of a survivor with millions of years of genetic knowledge.

This poem shows the scientist as a law unto himself, outside the everyday world, not even hot-blooded. But it is reverential - here is a portrait of a person who intrigues the writer.

It is also possible that in writing this poem, James is engaging in debate about the relationship between the arts and science. How does a poet who is not a scientist make the connection with such a seemingly hermetic world? Is the poet frozen by science's glacial stare or can he see beyond the attempt to understand its secrets?

Jackie Wills

James Hodgson receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Jackie Wills is poet-in-residence at Lever Brothers in Kingston upon Thames. Her second collection, Party, is published in October (Leviathan). Her first, Powder Tower, was shortlisted for the 1995 T S Eliot Prize. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email:

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