Signpost Five: ‘Addiction to an Old Mattress’, Rosemary Tonks.

It’s been a long while since I wrote my blog and the reason is that I was introduced to Rosemary Tonks. Oh my god; Rosemary Tonks! Remember, the whole point of this blog is simply to share poems that have inspired me to write poetry, in the hope that the poems will inspire you to write, too. Rosemary Tonks has been like rocket fuel.

Please read this and bear with it; it’s unlikely you’ll understand it immediately:

Now, you can see why I wasn’t in a hurry to post this and explain why this poet has been my inspiration. It is not easy. But I’ll have a go.

The whole sound of this reminds me a little of the Fast Show character, Rowley Birkin QC, who would gabble away nonsensically, his ramblings punctuated by phrases you suddenly understood, like “poisonous monkeys!” Not that Tonks comes over as drunk, but certainly overwhelmed by the feelings she is conveying. I hear a county lady, with a posh voice, in tweeds, sounding exasperated, saying, “…and another thing….!”

“This is not my life…” suggests being stuck in a life the poet doesn’t want to be living, with dull objects, drudgery, greyness.

Think of boring things you’re fed up with, but stuck with: Potatoes!

After reading this I pretty much wrote a complete poem in one sitting and went on to get it accepted for publication! This poem showed me how to write about something I was totally fed up and exasperated with, in an entertaining way.

Have a look at “bolsters from Istanbul!” Very ‘poisonous monkeys’, isn’t it? I imagine someone at her hotel proudly announcing that the bolsters were from Istanbul and Tonks thinking this was a ridiculous thing to be proud of. Think of something that you consider ridiculous to be proud of and try sticking it in a poem.

Look at the things that give the poem movement: draughts, salt breezes, moody isobars. Can you see them, moodily huffing and puffing?

Look at the people described: haberdashers, writers of menus, dentists. Tonks clearly feels they are not her kind of people, that their lives are too dull, yet she is “obsessed” and in the last line, she writes; “And I wolf, bolt, gulp it down, day after day”. She is disgusted with herself. She wants to break out! Who hasn’t felt like that, suffocated by an illness, a dull job, a boring dinner party, a shift that’s gone on far too long on a supermarket checkout?

I’m going to take a risk now. I’m so confident that one of you darling readers will be inspired to write a poem after reading Rosemary Tonks that I’m going to ask you to please comment below this time and say  you have. You don’t have to post your poem, but please let us know that Tonks has worked for you. Go now and write that exasperated poem…




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