What the Chairman Told Tom
Poetry? It's a hobby. I run model trains. Mr. Shaw there breeds pigeons. It's not work. You dont sweat. Nobody pays for it. You could advertise soap. Art, that's opera; or repertory-- The Desert Song. Nancy was in the chorus. But to ask for twelve pounds a week-- married, aren't you?-- you've got a nerve. How could I look a bus conductor in the face if I paid you twelve pounds? Who says it's poetry, anyhow? My ten year old can do it and rhyme. I get three thousand and expenses, a car, vouchers, but I'm an accountant. They do what I tell them, my company. What do you do? Nasty little words, nasty long words, it's unhealthy. I want to wash when I meet a poet. They're Reds, addicts, all delinquents. What you write is rot. Mr. Hines says so, and he's a schoolteacher, he ought to know. Go and find work.
From Complete Poems by Basil Bunting, published by Bloodaxe Books (2000). Copyright © 1985 by the estate of Basil Bunting. Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books. All rights reserved.
Born March 1, 1900, in Scotswood-on-Tyne, Northumberland, to a family of Quakers, poet Basil Bunting first attended Ackworth School in Yorkshire and Leighton Park School in Berkshire until the age of eighteen. Bunting's Quaker education informed a strong opposition to World War I, and, after high school, Bunting was arrested for being a conscientious objector to the war. For this, he was imprisoned at Wormwood Scrubs and Winchester until 1920.
Date Published: 1985-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/what-chairman-told-tom