One of the most surprising highlights of the last few weeks was receiving a photograph of a toilet. Not just any old toilet but a public toilet in the Shetlands. When I discovered that my poem had been selected as one of the ‘Bards in the Bog’ competition winners, I was delighted but assumed that I would never get to see my poem on display. The competition, launched by poet Jen Hadfield in association with the Shetland Library, aims to place winning poems in public toilets across the Shetlands (http://www.shetland-library.gov.uk/Bards.asp). Pretty cool, I thought. Shame I would never get to visit. Bizarrely, a work colleague’s sister happens to live in the Shetlands and made the effort to locate the actual toilet in question and sent me this snap. Forget being Poet Laureate. I am content to be a rhymer of the restroom, a lyricist of the loo.
Writing about this is perhaps just an excuse to share one of my favourite Jen Hadfield poems (from Nigh-No-Place). It seems particularly fitting for this season.
by Jen Hadfield
Hallowed be dy mane.
Dy kingdom come.
Dy draftwork be done.
Still plough the day
And give out daily bray
Though heart stiffen in the harness.
Then sleep hang harness with bearbells
And trot on bravely into sleep
Where the black and the bay
The sorrel and the grey
And foals and bearded wheat
It is on earth as it is in heaven.
Wild asparagus, yellow flowers
On the flowering cactus.
Give our daily wheat, wet
Whiskers in the sonorous bucket.
Knead my heart, hardened daily.
Heal the hoofprint in my heart.
Give us our oats at bedtime
And in the night half-sleeping.
Hallowed be dy hot mash.