'Schoolbuddy' by Ray Pool is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week
This week’s Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘Schoolbuddy’ by Ray Pool. It’s a poem about finding out about the death of an old musician friend on Facebook - a friend the poet has only recently reconnected with. Ray, a recently retired musician, is a regular contributor to Write Out Loud, both posting his own poems and commenting on others' work, and reads his poetry at Write Out Loud Woking, and at the 1000 Monkeys in Guildford. He reveals more in this Q&A:
How long has poetry been an important part of your life and can you remember why it became so?
Poetry has been significant for me from early schooldays, John Betjeman’s 1960 Collected Poems being my first revelation; I still treasure the book. My early involvements were firstly with music and writing essays, my father and two older brothers giving me a taste for reaching out to these fields. The sixties became a fruitful period for the creative arts in general, so then I got the bug to write.
What kind of poetry do you write? What motivates you?
I used to write what I considered witty poems, but have since extended my range to include any subject that appeals to me where I have sufficient confidence to air my views or shape an idea. I do tend to favour tales using characters, and I think mood is a very important factor, also to invite the reader to feel comfortable.
If you could only have one poet’s work to read, which one would you choose?
I would have to choose Ted Hughes as my most admired poet for his impact and directness and range of feeling. Philip Larkin would be another choice, quite different but equally compelling.
Do you perform your work and if so, where are your favourite places to perform?
I have only been performing my poetry for a couple of years, and gaining confidence all the time. The venues apart from private parties (and funerals) are the 1000 Monkeys at the Keystone pub in Guildford and Write Out Loud at the New Inn at Send, both in Surrey.
If you found yourself cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you pick?
My desert island choice would be a powerful telescope for viewing the night sky.
by Ray Pool
I lost a school friend this week to cancer
found out by chance on Facebook
we shared close times
in a band together
travelled on bikes when summers were young
challenged each other in photography
found out by chance on Facebook
while casually trawling
to find something mildly enthralling.
The statement came up ungarnished
amongst the litany of rants
dogs doing somersaults
posts to share
little throbbing squares of colour
all points of the holiday compass
but nothing much that I hadn't seen everyday
and this is the way I found out
quite by chance
no emoticons, no birthday jingly jokes
there was a photo with his guitar gripped
and grandchildren in support
and he simply looked out onto the last
of the world that separated us
we found a connection at last
after fifty years, pictures of times shared
winged through the post
he told me then of the curse on him
but again time lapsed
his wife depressed, a certain reticence
to meet I sensed though I was willing.
I found out quite by chance on Facebook
I can't forget that shrunken look
or the fifty years it took
better than nothing I suppose
in the realm of choice nobody chose
and soon I must make my late flirtation
to the family's final invitation.