Saturday, 23 July 2011

Under Construction

06:15:00 Posted by Ashley Lister 3 comments

by Ashley Lister

"Before I read this poem, I’d like to tell you all some interesting and relevant information about the current programme of road improvements in Blackpool, and the surrounding areas of the Fylde coast, that will help develop cycle routes in the town…

At a recent meeting of the Dead Good Poets I read an original poem about the excessive amount of roadworks in Blackpool. The idea was inspired, not unsurprisingly, by the excessive amount of roadworks in Blackpool. I drive a car and, for the past few months in Blackpool, an abundance of roadworks has made driving problematic.

Welcome to Blackpool

Come drink, dine and dance.

Please relax and enjoy

All the road maintenance.

There’s more roadwork than road

In this north-west resort

And surviving the rush hour

Is now our local sport.

What once took two minutes

Now takes two hours at best

As they make the roads faster

For the town’s ONE cyclist.

The idea to write about the roadworks came to me when I was stuck in a traffic jam. This idea was followed by the concept of presenting the verse as a welcome to the town, promoting the roadworks as though roadworks are another of Blackpool’s many tourist attractions rather than a reason to avoid the resort.

That struck me as a sufficiently quirky approach that suited the tone I wanted to adopt. I figured it would make for an amusing poem that could address the point that excessive roadworks really are a nuisance and inconvenience, but without that sentiment coming across as a vociferous diatribe or a rant.

We have beautiful sunsets

That enrich the twilight

And we watch them across

The prom’s construction site.

They’ve fenced off the seafront

From the trams there’s no movement

And we’re told it’s being done

In the name of improvement.

And there’s millions of signs

Showing men in hard hats

The signs say: DANGER MEN WORKING

But there’s no danger of that.

I was pleased with the forced rhymes in this verse. As most of the regular contributors to this blog will know, I am a huge lover of rhyming verse. But I also adore the postmodern amusement-value of forced end rhymes. Consequently dance rhymes with maintenance in this poem, and best rhymes with cyclist.

Similarly, the irregular scansion adds to the suggestion of a poor construction within this poem – almost as though the form is mimicking the poor construction being described in the content. (That’s not really why the irregular scansion is there – I just happen to have written this one whilst I was in a rush – but I thought that explanation was worthy of English Literature studies).

You’ll see six of them standing

With five of them shirking

There’s one drawn a short straw

And he’s THE one who’s working.

And the others do nothing

They’re all on a fag break

And they’ll only do work

If it’s done by mistake.

And this is our town then

It’s all construction sites

Not designed for car drivers

Who’ve come here for the lights.

Obviously some parts of this poem are completely untrue as I suggest that the construction workers employed on the road improvements are not diligent, hardworking and industrious individuals. This scurrilous suggestion was included for comic effect, based on the stereotype of the traditional construction worker and bears no relationship to the real construction workers who have put so much effort and hard work into swiftly renovating Blackpool’s roads over the past five years.

So welcome to Blackpool

Come young and come old

Come see Blackpool tower

Wrapped up in scaffold.

We’ve got roads drenched in roadworks

As many as you like.

It should improve your journey

As long as you’re on your bike.

On top of the above motives, I should add that part of the inspiration for this one came from the knowledge it would be read out to the DGPS audience. Knowing that the poem would be delivered to an audience who were familiar with the roadwork situation made it easier to write about the subject. For any audience outside the area I would have had to preface the material with a tedious explanation about Blackpool’s road renovation programme and the issues developing from it.

And what could be less fun and inspiring than to hear someone introduce their poetry by saying:

Before I read this poem, I’d like to tell you all some interesting and relevant information about the current programme of road improvements in Blackpool, and the surrounding areas of the Fylde coast, that will help develop cycle routes in the town…

Reactions:

3 comments:

Lara Clayton said...

Inspiration and considering audience - who said that men can't multi-task?!
Great post Ash :)

Ashley R Lister said...

And I was also recycling material from the last get-together :-)

Ash

Lara Clayton said...

See, a man of many talents!