I'm Having the Rhyme of My Life: George Melling, Talentvine Press
Flapjack Press, an independent publisher of north-west performance poetry and poetry theatre for adults and children, also produce collections and anthologies for schools, workshop groups, festivals and individuals not in the Flapjack stable. George Melling’s I’m Having the Rhyme of My Life, for Talentvine Press, is an exemplar of their tenet.
George came to poetry late in life, following the death of his wife, Alwyn, and his son, Stephen. Clasped tightly within the bosom of his poetry family, he has blossomed as a poet, a performer, an actor, and a scribe of enormous gentleness, subtlety and genuine laugh-out-loud humour. This is his second collection, the first being a CD of 12 poems, Th'Owd Chap, the proceeds of which are donated to Wigan and Leigh Hospice.
Covering such wide-ranging themes as unsolicited phone calls, foraging for magic mushrooms (yes, you read that right), and the perils of trying to find teacakes in the supermarket
"They're in aisle 44
with the baby nappies
and anti-diarrhoea tablets,
this collection shines a bright and honest light on the indignities, vulnerabilities, aches, pains and gallows humour of old age. Nothing is spared from its focus, not even the forensic inspection of 'Ode to a Number Two'. George is also very fond of the double entendre, as perfectly evidenced (complete with photographic evidence!) in 'World Naked Gardening Day'
the British weather…
a cold front and mi tulip
will snap in on itself
I've got nettle rash,
and a shrivelled Osteospermum
In live performance, George can have a whole roomful of people rocking with laughter, and in the blink of an eye, reduce them to tears. This translates perfectly on to the page. Employing all of the emotions to brilliant effect, these poems/stories take sharp turns, and very often pull the rug from beneath your feet when least expected. He possesses a deft touch with humour and poignancy, and is not shy at showing the reader just how precious, and vicious, human life and death can be.
Gathering the world around him in a big warm hug of inclusion, even "fatty blackbird" who "shits on mi wall", he acknowledges the terrible deprivations of displaced people everywhere, and is thankful for the small stuff.
From the Aberfan disaster to his beloved Wigan rugby games, the unimaginable grief of losing his only son and beloved wife bleeds into many of the poems, and we are shown the absolute necessity of love, encouragement and support to the frailty of human life
and this 'Owd Chap died…almost,
he retreated, his innermost,
like a flower closes in on itself,
as each dark day turned into week…
I unfolded each new year.
Through writing and word,
and being heard,
I'm able to stand here,
and share mi die, and share mi stories,
and share mi cry, and share mi glories,
and all through our love of poetry
A real testament to the healing power of poetry, and in particular, performance poetry. Indeed, Wigan Write Out Loud (and long-serving host of, John Togher) get their own deserved dedications in the book – not for the first time, and I would guess, not for the last, either.
As with all of the other titles related to Flapjack Press, this collection is beautifully put together, with a matte cover, excellent photography from Sharon Lowe and Steven Derbyshire, and perfect typesetting. It is a joy to hold and read, and I thoroughly recommend you get yourselves a copy.
To buy one, please contact George directly via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or on Facebook. Alternatively, you can get a signed copy in person from the official book launch at Word Central, Manchester Central Library, St Peters Square, Manchester, on Thursday 5 April from 6pm.
George Melling, I’m Having the Rhyme of My Life, Talentvine Press, £8 plus £2 pp