LIVES OF F, Audio POEM #2 & process blog: Baby F & the Lion Tamer!

 In Poetry

LIVES OF F POEM 2: Baby F & the Lion Tamer:

The problem of God or The Lion Tamer – Process blog #2

Most people ‘get’ the uses of metaphor and figurative language in poetry. In the UK, we’ve all had some kind of GCSE crash-course. I believe there’s also something in the core of us that understands the need to substitute what is inexplicable with symbols that have powerful, far-reaching associations. Even those who operate largely from the left sides of their brains, have a learned understanding of divine intervention in animation, comedy and cartoons. I once supported a high-spectrum autistic teenager who had an excellent grasp of semantic shorthand in The Simpsons and Tom and Jerry.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have grown-up in a house with books, the intervention of Radio 4 and reruns of Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts on the telly at Christmas, you will also have become familiar with the lighthearted but devastating relationships between God figures and ‘know-it-all’ humans demonstrating the ultimate annoyance – ‘hubris.’ A brush with Homer’s texts leaves the lasting impression of bickering husband and wife double-act, Zeus and Hera, who take pot-shots at each other while steering the tides of love, death and war in the world of men, women and half-immortals.

Part of my current ACE funded literature project is a series of poems that show stages in the life cycle of Baby F, using extended performance metaphors as lenses through which to communicate F’s progress and environment. In poem 2 (audio-link below), the ‘lens’ is circus and F is a little boy. The genders of F (Effy and Freddy) change from poem to poem as an exploration of gender assumptions and also, because of what happens at the end…keep your ears peeled for the final audio-poem. To express the controlling preoccupations of parents, Susan and Mike, the God-like figure of ‘Grandfather Lion Tamer’, (Mike’s Great Great Grandfather, reminiscent of Epic film-actor, Victor Mature) cracks his whip, teaching this nuclear family lessons about: trust in Fate, life, their child’s development and trust in themselves.

The insertion of a God like figure that is very representative is not, as mentioned, out of place in the context of myth and legend, whether retold for modern audiences or translated from Homer and the Classical poets. But there’s something risky about placing such a character in a contemporary story, although lyrical poetry could, at a pinch, bridge the gap between two oral genres, milennia apart. It has a been a point of consideration as to whether the presence of Grandfather Lion Tamer is really a jarring conceit in this story of F’s life. When looking for justification, I turn to comedy, which (through its application of irreverent tone, irony and surrealism), can often join contrasting subjects in a string of lateral association. I hope this synthesis is realised in ‘Lives of F, Poem #2’. Listen hear to the audio-track if you have three good minutes…

Any thoughts on God figures in contemporary poetry? Let me know 🙂

with thanks,


Click below for the audio track.


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