Thursday, May 25, 2006

Warning: red hats

Decades ago, when I was young and easy in Wales, I came across a fabulous poem. I read it in an anthology I had out from the library. Although I remembered it was great and had something to do with growing old really disgracefully, the title and the name of the author had escaped me by the time I was less young and easy and moved back to Finland. Then, incredibly, my colleague asked if I knew a poet called Jenny Joseph, as she had bumped into the poet's son when she (my colleague) was young and easy and interrailing in London, and had actually stayed with the poet and her family and made great friends with her. No, I said, I don't think I do. So, my colleague lent me a Jenny Joseph book, and lo – my poem that I had so strongly identified with and loved but forgotten, was there. Jenny Joseph: "Warning"

(I don't know how the copyright issue stands, so I shall not reproduce the poem here. I will just point you in the direction where you can find it online.)

I performed the poem in a couple of poetry evenings and thought it was really *mine*, I had after all discovered it all by myself. Imagine my despair when I find that over here in the US, they have a "Red Hat Society" for women of a certain age, complete with merchandise such as mugs, cards, toilet roll holders, bookends, picture frames, fully posable action figures (kidding but only just) etc., and official gatherings in full costume. Oh no. Why does everything have to be taken over and turned into a free market economy, I ask you. I feel so cheated.

(PS To add insult to injury, I have just noticed there is a SPELLING ERROR in the online version of the poem...ohhh)

© 2006 Anna MR

1 comment:

nmj said...

I didn't even know I knew this poem, but I realise I've heard the first line quoted before, I love how fragments of writing can embed themselves . . . & only Americans can turn a poem into a business!