I have been a fan of Spike Milligan long before I realised I suffered from depression myself. I was brought up watching The Goons, Tony Hancock, Tommy Cooper and other giants of comedy.
His poetry made me laugh when I was a child and only really in later life that I have come back to reading Spike’s words in a different way.
When I have one minute to spare I open a book of his collected work and read one poem, they never fail to evoke some form of emotion within me. His Treasury of Children’s verse has been passed onto my kids and they still can quote their favourite verbatim.
I read his books and poems whenever I feel the need, he is to me like an old friend who just happens to be book shaped, always in the same place when you need them, always giving, never asking.
Obviously I wish I could have met him and to have spent an hour in his presence but come to think of it every time you read his work you are in his presence, his words are that funny or sad you cannot help but empathise. His seminal work “Manic Depression” is oft quoted and as in my own small tribute manages to re-define the word “pain”.
For me Raymond Carver was the quintessential American storyteller.
On first reading him I was a little confused, his work seemed ordinary, pedestrian and not very exciting.
I realised later in life I could not have been more wrong if I had won first prize in a being wrong competition.
Raymond Carvers work spoke to me like no other, it is rich, deep and forever melancholic. At first stories appear to start out of nowhere and end sometimes even further away, I think it was this genius, this ability to make you believe that every character had a life before and after this story is what I find truly remarkable. The characters have ultimate believability.
I like both his prose and his poetry. He was yet another soul taken from us all too early.
Spike Milligan Raymond Carver Ian McMillan Simon Armitage
Philp Larkin Bob Dylan Wilfred Owen Alan Ginsberg
These are the poets I read regularly and if at all possible on a daily basis. The internet is not big enough to list everyone I like and I am sorry if you are a famous poet and still alive and you are not on my list. Give me a call and we can go out for a coffee. You can buy the coffee and persuade me why you should be on my blog in 50 words or less.