'The black and the white' by Martin Elder is Write Out Loud Poem of the Week
The Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘The black and the white’ by Martin Elder, a recollection of the wintry shades of yesteryear – “Everywhere marked with a ring of soot, smoke and steam.” Not so much looking back at the past through rose-tinted specs, as through grime-streaked glasses. The poem ends with the world of black and white appearing to turn to colour during the 1960s: “In an effort to hang loose and turn on /The sun and love were apparently born / And grey and brown / Became a purple haze.” Martin, who attends Write Out Loud Stockport, started writing poetry on a regular basis four years ago. Here are his replies to Write Out loud's questions:
What got you into writing poetry?
I started writing poetry about 20 years ago as another expression of writing, as I was already
writing short stories with no particular agenda other than to write. I showed the poems to a friend who said he did not like them, so I stopped. I then got stimulated to write a poem regarding a job that was coming to a close called 'Return to Bolton'. I suddenly found myself in the
groove and haven't stopped since. That was nearly four years ago now, so I guess that answers the next question, how long have you been writing?
Do you go to any open-mic nights?
I generally attend my local Write Out Loud event in Stockport and have infrequently attended other open mic gigs in the north-west such as Sale, Wigan and Prestwich. Last year I found myself in Eastbourne.
Your favourite poet/poem?
My favourite poet would have to be Dylan Thomas, and favourite poem probably Under Milk Wood , though I am not sure whether it is more a play. Either way it is a great piece of writing
You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?
This is a hard one. But I would have to say probably a cow so that I could make cheese!
THE BLACK AND THE WHITE
by Martin Elder
In the early rising dawn
When I wore shorts all the year round
And winter was just another blister
On the sole of life
The world in which we lived
Ate dressed and walked was
Mainly black or white
With just a few shades in between
The cars and the streets
Were all a dirty shade of brown and grey
There was of course the odd exception
Like something out of time
A bus, a tram or a train
But even they looked tired forlorn and filthy
In varying shades of green, brown and cream
Everywhere marked with a ring of soot, smoke and steam
Men delivered sacks of back breaking nutty slack
Shovelled broken and pummelled
Offered up to the hungry fire
Their backs bent with years of lifting
Half a hundred weight
Sometimes wet and steamy
Oval black nuts
In winter men in long khaki coloured coats
Where rain would eventually soak through
And become a heavy soggy dripping mess
Topped off by a Windsor, flat or bowler hat
Brollies only for the sophisticate or city gent
Pinstriped sparkling fresh and clean
To the office on the seven twenty three
And in the heat for those who could afford it
Always rolled up sleeves
Any other way would seem undressed
All of this and more was how it was
Until winter turned to summer
In an effervescent explosion of bloom
And of colour
In an effort to hang loose and turn on
The sun and love were apparently born
And grey and brown
Became a purple haze