Poet files #2

George Best: secret poet

One of the most delicious moments in the history of Pseuds’ Corner, the mighty column in Private Eye magazine, surely had to be when it featured Angie Best, then-wife of the legendarily hard-drinking (er – and womanising) footballer, warbling: “People talk about George as if he’s just this hard man of football, but that isn’t the husband I know, who lies in bed with me and reads to me from the poems he’s written…” (I paraphrase: blow me down, it’s not on the internet!)

Here the Irish poet Ray Givens talks about talks about how a poem written by George Best inspired him to start writing poetry again.

He said to himself: “If George Best can write poems and get them published in magazines…”*

The best poetry connection continues. Best’s son Calum moved thousands to tears (apparently – and I admit, I would cry if I saw it)* at his father’s funeral, reading a poem that had been sent by a woman in Belfast. This woman is not the only fan to have written poetry for George, I’m sure. And although I think you have to join up to see it, intimations on Google are that the George Best Foundation‘s newsletter features a Poem of the Month.

* Your correspondent was very excited to find a poem saying it was written by George Best for his school magazine in Year 7 – and very good it would have been, too! and even typed the whole thing out, before realising it was from 1933, and therefore written 13 years before the birth of the future footballer. Even he can’t have been that clever.

Here are the first two stanzas:

The Poet’s Pitfalls

The task you set – composing verse –
Though you deny it, is far worse
Than even twice as much of prose –
The fact this poem will disclose.

To start with, you must always choose
A subject that will never lose
The reader’s interest. If you do
He may not even read it through.

From the mouths of babes…

** But then I think I can remember getting a bit choked up once watching Pingu.

We constantly hear in the poetry world that no one likes poetry, that poetry is ‘dead’. Poppycock. Poetry is in fact everywhere: wherever you go, if you scratch the surface you find a poet. Poet Files is an exclusive series in which Baroque in Hackney scrutinises the unlikely, and finds the secret poetry lurking there. Look for it every Saturday morning.

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