'People Watching' by Paul Waring is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week
‘People Watching’ by Paul Waring is Write Out Loud’s Poem of the Week. On his profile page Paul, a retired clinical psychologist, tells a remarkable story – that he used to write poetry in the 1990s, stopped for 20 years, then couldn’t locate his poems when he looked for the file last month. Undeterred, he started writing some again – and at the same time he joined Write Out Loud. In our Q&A he reveals that his poetic hero is Philip Larkin.
How long has poetry been an important part of your life and can you remember why it became so?
My love of poetry began as a teenager in school where our English teacher who, for those old enough to remember, had the patience of Wendy Craig from the TV series Butterflies. She somehow managed to engage my giddy Monty Python-inspired classmates and I to read and enjoy the works of many great poets. I vividly remember how nervous I felt when she asked me to read Gerard Manley Hopkins 'The Windhover' to the class. I think my enjoyment of rhymes and word play helped me to write song lyrics in the 1980s and then, in 1990 to write my first poem.
What kind of poetry do you write? What motivates you?
I have written quite a range of poems so far and my Write Out Loud postings have ranged from the deadly serious to the light-hearted and humorous. I enjoy the process of starting with an idea, maybe an image, a word or a phrase and then letting my mind wander until things start to gel and flow. As a (retired) clinical psychologist, I am motivated to write about people and their behaviours and am an avid people watcher. But, I am equally motivated to write about life in general; everyday situations and the natural world of flowers, birds, animals, insects, etc.
If you could only have one poet’s work to read which one would you choose?
Undoubtedly Philip Larkin. For me, he always had a unique gift of telling a story in a poem using, often, simple but carefully chosen words. His poem 'Mr Bleaney' is a great example for me. The down-to-earth nature of his work reminds me of the “social realism” films of the 1960s that I've always enjoyed (e.g. Cathy Come Home, Up the Junction, etc) which depict British society warts-and-all. I particularly like the honesty and clarity (and occasional irreverence) of Larkin's writing.
Do you perform your work and if so, where are your favourite places to perform?
No, not yet. However, I do plan to before long because, since I started writing again in December last year, I now have a number of pieces that I would feel comfortable reading to an audience. I did read one of my poems, called 'Home', at my father's funeral in 2007.
If you found yourself cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you pick?
A Nespresso machine - as I don't think I could get started in the mornings without a coffee or two. With any luck, before I'm cast away they'll have invented a Nespresso iPad (with wifi), so I'd be able to continue writing, enjoy espressos and keep in touch with Write Out Loud!
by Paul Wareing
a window seat provides a view
for people-watching types like me
who haven't got much else to do
than nosey-hole while drinking tea
or coffee, if I'm at the shops,
for no trip out can be complete
without one of my routine stops
for observations of the street
from Costa or another chain
to spy as people come and go
before I leave to catch the train,
and eye-ball shoppers I don't know
who come in every shape and size
young and old, they are quite a sight,
some glued to phones and eating pies,
with lumps and bumps and pants too tight
I must admit to being obsessed
with mankind's rich variety
I yearn to be like all the rest:
the people with more life than me