NaPoWriMo Day 21: John Osborne – Teachers

Norwich-based poet, writer and performer John Osborne returns with a NaPoWriMo prompt we can all relate to: Teachers. Have a read and listen to John’s poem and then think back on the teachers in your life. There’s sure to be a poem in there somewhere.

What are electrons?

When our physics teacher died
we didn’t have to do physics anymore.
The headmaster wrote to the exam board
who replied with flowers and exemption forms.

Her equations were still on the blackboard
in her handwriting, in her empty classroom.
A pile of our school books still to be marked.
The Van de Graaff generator in the storeroom,
untouched. Our hair will not frizz again
and now we are excused from physics.

We all loved Mrs Allcock so much,
who spoke of us so warmly at parents’ evenings
and would tell us of her pre-teaching life
directing pantomimes, an understudy at the Old Vic,
she wrote the school play
and she’d let us change our own lines.

Every October there was a school trip to Jodrell Bank.
It was supposed to be our turn that year
Our parents had already signed the participation forms
and that’s why it would be unfair
for any of our class to have to obey the laws of gravity.
Physics brings back too many painful memories
and so we float.

John Osborne

John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio.

www.johnosbornewriter.com

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please consider showing your support with a donation via ko-fi.com

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Books by many of the poets featured on the podcast are available from the Poetry Non-Stop bookshop here. All books purchased via this link help to raise money to keep this podcast going.

Service Announcement – Roger Hare

Here’s another poem written in response to John Osborne’s supermarket poetry exercise. It’s great to see the variety of responses to this exercise and all the places that poems end up from the seemingly mundane starting point of the supermarket.

Service Announcement

Could Jane take a pan and brush
and bucket and cloth 
to aisle two please. A jar of strawberry
jam has been dropped. I thought
you would be best as I know you have
a youngster prone to vomiting so
are good at cleaning up.

Your little one is three now, isn’t that
right? Four-&-a-half years on
from when we were an item, tho’ I had
quickly realised we wouldn’t be right
for each other
really. 

But I was surprised when James moved
in 
so soon after and more so 
when I found out you were to have 
a baby together straight away;
it was one of the things we crossed 
words about.

Could someone please go to aisle 4
before I give up the mic – and stop me
from buying any more
if I try to.

Roger Hare

Supermarket Sweep – Roger Waldron

Here’s a poem by Roger Waldron written in response to John Osborne’s writing exercise. We welcome submissions of poems written in response to any of the writing prompts or exercises on Poetry Non-Stop. You can submit poems here.

Supermarket Sweep

I met my love in the supermarket carpark.
She was reversing her vintage Hillman Minx
with such confidence I had to stand and applaud
She locked it and threw me a glance asked if I’d seen
enough or would I like to see her do her weekly shop
and make comment on the cleaning products she’s considering
before she made her final purchase I asked if I could push
her trolley She asked if I’d got a pound She smiled as I adjusted
my pockets held my hand and led me down the bright lights of the toiletry aisle

Roger Waldron

Episode 36: John Osborne – Poetry in the supermarket

Picture: Katie Pope

Everything’s in the supermarket so you can write about death and sadness and love and romance.

John Osborne

Norwich-based poet John Osborne reads from his latest collection A Supermarket Love Story and discusses the potential for poetry in the setting of the stores we take for granted.

John’s supermarket writing prompt

Choose an aisle in a supermarket and write a poem about it OR write a poem with the title ‘A Supermarket Just Before Closing’.

Tips:

  • Visit a supermarket you don’t usually go to or go at an unusual time
  • Make a list of words associated with supermarkets
  • Write down memories, observations and other experiences associated with supermarkets
  • Think about how these experiences relate to other parts of your life

We’d love to read any poems you write so please send them in here for a chance to be featured on the blog or podcast.

John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio. You can purchase A Supermarket Love Story here with illustrations by Katie Pope

www.johnosbornewriter.com