Do you suffer from SWS (Shit Writing Syndrome) ?


“This is something I have never talked about publicly. Five years ago, shortly after my beautiful daughter’s third birthday, I was diagnosed with advanced SWS — Shit Writing Syndrome.

I’ll assume you’ve never heard of it. I hadn’t. Webster’s Dictionary defines Shit Writing Syndrome as “a disorder that turns one’s writing to shit, for example, by causing one to quote this dictionary when describing the disorder.

The mechanics of the disease are still not well understood. Some experts believe that fecal matter leaks out of your colon and travels through your lymphatic system into your writing. Others think it’s figurative. But those distinctions matter little when you are looking at a page of your own writing and seeing shit.

They found it by accident. I had gone to the doctor for a routine penile enlargement procedure. I had filled out the standard Writers Guild insurance forms, and that’s where it turned up. When my doctor walked into the room, she had a hard time making eye contact.”

Andy Bobrow

Find out how he cured himself:

And there is a Fulham connection above. Those famously bad opening lines “It was a dark and stormy night” were penned by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Lytton  once resided in the original Craven Cottage, now the site of Fulham’s beautiful old ground, which still has a Craven Cottage in the corner (below).

Fulham have, of course, been suffering for some time, not from SWS, but SFS (Shit Football Syndrome).

Seamus Heaney and Fulham


I doubt if Seamus had much interest in Premier League football. He was, it seems, more into Gaelic Football – there is an early photograph (above) of him in his primary school football team – he’s in the back row, third boy from the left and the only one wearing a tie!

The team I’ve followed since I was about ten years old, Fulham, were relegated from the Premier League last week. If I was to write a poem about their season, it might be a limerick, the events are so comical: two managers sacked, a multi-million dollar signing who was too unfit to play more than a few minutes etc.

The gloom was lightened considerably by hearing that I had been offered a place on the Seamus Heaney Summer School at Queens University, Belfast, at the end of June. I was planning on going to Ireland anyway this northern summer, so all I have to do is change the dates a bit, and I’m there.

Seamus was a graduate of Queens, with first class honours of course. The university has a school of poetry named after him. They only take twelve people on the summer school, and you have to submit a selection of your work for them to peruse, before they decide if you are up to it. So I was surprised to get a place. A quiet year perhaps.

Anyway, I am looking forward to it immensely, and I will also be able to catch up with my sister Lynda who lives in Omagh, maybe some friends in Dublin and Wexford, and then pop over to England to see my other sister, Valerie and my mother Bridget.

And as winter has now set in in Adelaide, hopefully some warm Irish weather.


Poem a Day #27 – The Gospel According to St. Tony


I’m not in a good mood today, having stayed up to the early hours to watch my Premier League team Fulham, desperately needing a win, throw away a two goal lead. Not sure why this still upsets me but it does. So there’s a bit of venom in the brain today, and it’s come out in the form of satire. I acknowledge a debt to the great, veteran, British performance poet Attila the Stockbroker for this one. He did a wonderful piece called “The Bible according to Rupert Murdoch“. I’ve pinched the idea and turned it into this:


The Gospel According to St. Tony

after Attila the Stockbroker


In the beginning was the word

and the word was Stop!


And the Lord said:

Let there be a plague of slogans and let there be a slogan for every prejudice,

Yea, even until the prejudiced themselves will say “Stop the Slogans”


And let St. Tony be the prophet whose mouth will constantly chant these slogans

And let St. Rupert be the holy messenger of these slogans

for he has minions in every corner of the land waiting to write the word.

And let this plague of slogans spread across the land so that the people hear and see nothing except “Stop”.


And St. Tony, in his raiment of red speedo and chest of camel hair, hearing the words of the Lord, smirked in an unholy way.

And St. Rupert said:

Now, let us also send forth the shock jocks of the east for verily, they will gladly mouth these slogan ad nauseam.

And let the old growth forests be felled to feed the paper mills so that my media empire can engrave the word “Stop!” in 4 inch headlines on newsprint every day unto eternity.

And let not the people be allowed to think of anything but “Stop!

For thinking leads to fornication, sodomy and bestiality and if any reporter dares to start an article, not with the holy word “Stop!” let he or she be cast forever from the media empire and spend eternity volunteering for Radio Adelaide.

And the Lord looked down on St. Rupert’s work and on St. Tony’s slogans and saw that they were indeed execrable.

But this was capitalism, and it made rich the robber barons of the land and so it was good.


But lo, it came to pass that the people went mad from the constant slogans. They took to drink and drugs, fornication, footy, home renovations and cooking to deaden their pain.

And St. Rupert sent forth his Fox Channel familiars to film the people and all the goings-on thereof, and made it into a top rating reality show.

And so the beginning of the end began.

And from there, things got even worse.


© Mike Hopkins 2014

What’s football got to do with poetry?

Soccer - League Division One - Fulham v Everton - Craven Cottage - 1963

Quite a lot, sometimes, especially if you spent large parts of your teenage years standing on the cold, concrete terraces of a struggling football club in London in the 1960s.

The poem was published in New Poets 16, and recently in There’s Only One F in Fulham, the club’s fanzine run by David Lloyd.

The Wind off the Thames

Winter Saturday afternoon 1960s London
the tube to Hammersmith station
electric magnetic acrid ozone
escalate from underground below the flyover
two miles walking redbrick backstreets
two shillings entry to

struggling Fulham football club
the riverside stand terraced with men
in solitary union, a fug of damp overcoats
sweat, cigarette smoke, Brylcreemed heads
sweet scalding tea, steak and kidney pies
fortify against the wind cutting off the water

another loss to a better team, in my despond
spill from a desolate stadium to trudge
the lonely drag back home
envy others starting out early evening
more human, rewarding, alliances, affinities
than devotion to a football team

40 years later on the far side of the world
unable to sleep I rise to watch
an internet stream a pixellated view
an all seater covered stadium
smoking forbidden, pomaded hair passé
but the same disappointment

I return to a bed as cold
as the chill wind off the Thames

© Mike Hopkins 2011