‘The Videomatic Tutor’ by Keith Jeffries is Write Out Loud’s Poem of the Week
Keith Jeffries lives in the Canary Islands – a reminder to us all of the international reach of Write Out Loud – and looks back to the years of National Service in his poem The Videomatic Tutor, observing men struggling to keep up in a woman’s world. Here are his answers to our Q&A.
What got you into writing poetry?
My father first introduced me to poetry with the poems of A E Housman and Rudyard Kipling.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for many years but started giving serious attention to poetry about nine years ago. Write Out Loud has also given me great encouragement, and enabled me to be a part of an artistic community within which I have shared ideas, given and received comments and criticisms all of which have provided me with real sense of enthusiasm to write more and more.
Do you go to any open-mic nights?
I have never given a public recitation.
Who’s your favourite poet? And your favourite poem?
Pablo Neruda is my favourite poet, along with Chris Abani. Neruda´s poem ‘Never alone, with you’, is my favourite.
You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?
On a desert island I would like a collection of Tango records to dance to.
The Videomatic Tutor
by Keith Jeffries
The clatter of typewriters in a nearby classroom
created a scene of women learning to type
Young ladies sitting before Imperials and Remingtons
with their handbags aside peering at the Videomatic Tutor
Few realised that burly young soldiers
inhabited this sanctum of supposed feminine activity
Hands not made for the intricacies of a keyboard
struggled to hit the right keys
Fingers like sausages pressed two keys at the same time
A place of clerical mayhem in the hands of men
Standing in front of the class was the Videomatic Tutor
an illuminated key board for the attention of all
Keys would flash a light as an electronic voice said
s - now, i - now, t - now u - now, p- -now.
To assist concentration and the development of rhythm
a gramophone played Glenn Miller´s Chattanooga Choo Choo
Keys were furiously hit, carraiges returned as expletives cut the air
This is how the British Army taught its troops to type
T - now, y - now, p - now, e - now