I’ve had this poem in the back of my mind for nearly a year. Back in June 2013, I was in Ireland and caught up with an old mate, Paddy Walsh, whom I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. I mentioned to him that I write poetry these days, and he immediately cast his eyes up to the ceiling, and gave me a great rant about how he’s sick to death of poets, how useless they are, how they think they know everything and do nothing etc. etc. It was one of the great rants – he’s very good at them. (By the way, this was before the death of Seamus Heaney).
I had to tell him that there was more than a grain of truth in his views in my experience.
In an email to me later he continued in the same vein, much to my amusement:
Honest to Jaysus whenever poets get on to the radio ( like every day!!) here they really piss me off – they know it all – experts on the economy, political situation – you name it , they have the answer, and it always revolves around them and their writings and their fuckin egos!! Maybe it’s Ireland ( but from what you observed – not so!) – Heaney is NEVER out of the papers and other media. I’m sure even he’s pissed off being so adored!!
(I’ve removed a few of the expletives Paddy)
Then recently I came across a Kit Wright poem: “Everybody hates the English”. This prompted me to knock the two ideas together and I came up with “Everybody Hates Poets”. Soon after I wrote it, I performed it in the “Sixty Second Slam” at the Adelaide Fringe, put on by Paroxysm Press. And I won first prize, a cool $100 cash. Thanks Paroxysm.
A theatre reviewer in the audience said it was a “cheekily self-effacing piece”!
So here’s an audio of the poem. Language warning as usual:
Everybody Hates Poets (for Paddy Walsh)
(after Kit Wright)
Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014