I'd like to write a short poem
For I'm always writing long poems
I have no need for long poems
I'm content to write just short poems
But I find when I've got to write poems
I can never write a short poem
All my poems to date are long poems
Even this poem titled 'Short Poem'
Can't I ever write a SHORT poem?
I've now got to stop this poem
Or it'll end up being a long poem
For I'd like to write a short poem
This is my aim from now on
Kasie Ume-Ezeoke aged 18, Notre Dame RC sixth form college, Leeds
I've always felt rather ambivalent towards poems about poems. They can be intriguing, but often I'm put off by the way they are so self-referential. Kasie, however, turns at least one of the dilemmas we all face when writing into a joke and that, in my opinion, is a great talent.
Anyway, this isn't just a poem about writing a poem, is it? It's a poem about struggling to communicate, about wanting what is in our head to come out right, even about turning that struggle into something worthwhile. It's also about the difficulties we face when we are constrained, how we know something intuitively but when set a task all that unconscious knwledge becomes jumbled up and does not make sense any more.
I like the way Kasie has tackled this. The serious element of this poem is the difficulty we face in determining what to leave in a poem and what to take out. It is sometimes easier to write more than it is to crystallise thoughts into a short poem. We always want to explain, to pile on yet another image and not trust simplicity. Yet some of the greatest poems are short and based on a single premise or image.
There is most definitely a place for the epic narrative poem and the way it rolls on, compelling us to read it. But very often, the surprises come in short poems where every word counts and there is space around them, allowing them to breathe.
Kasie Ume-Ezeoke receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Mrs Joanne Fox. Jackie Wills is poet in residence at Lever Brothers in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org