Memory and Nostalgia Poem

As some of you may already know, I am doing a module of Creative Writing this year with the Open University. I have been writing lots of stuff, but because I will be using some of it in my assignments I can’t publish it on here yet. However, I have also been doing lots of writing for exercise and I have the result of one of those exercises for you today.

The exercise was around memories, and how they can easily become very nostalgic if we’re not careful. We were asked to either write a 250 word prose piece, or a 16 line poem on things that we associate with our personal memories and cultural memories from a particular time in our past. As the point of this module for me is to learn new skills and techniques I deliberately chose to do poetry rather than prose to see how I fared. I did the exercise twice, and my second attempt is better than my first (in my opinion) but I’d like to hear what you have to say if you don’t mind dropping me a line with your feedback please.

I must point out first that “Honey Monster” in the first line refers to a PE teacher at my school, who earned his name because of his physique and his voice. He was a professional water polo player who represented the country for many years, so his arms and shoulders were powerfully built up, whilst his waist and hips remained normal. If you remember the advert for Sugar Puffs then you’ll know what I mean! I hope you get the remaining cultural references too, they point to a particular time and era.

Anyhow, here’s my attempt at “proper” poetry:

Honey Monster bawling at the boys in the yard,
Desperately trying to relive his glory days
Out in the lives of the skinny rats from Blackley,
Cut more from Grange Hill cloth
Than the velvet seed-beds of Footlights Prep.
Girls in mis-matched neon socks
Drooling over George and Andrew.
Who knew they could be so, so wrong
About men with better hair and skin than they?
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” belting out in June
Feeding kids in Africa became the first bandwaggon
To which to hitch a fading star.
Swear words on the BBC, never heard before.
A tear-stained Michael Buerk, yet another first.
Snogging in the Music Room, a million miles away
From dying kids in Africa: hunger, malaria, thirst.

Please let me know what you think! Thank you.


8 thoughts on “Memory and Nostalgia Poem”

  1. 1) “Who knew they could be so, so wrong
    About men with better hair and skin than they?” I fully understand what you are saying – you said it well
    2) “Do The Know It’s Christmas?” belting out in June should read “Do they know…” unless you meant “the” for a reason I’ve missed
    3) “Feeding kids in Africa became the first bandwaggon To which to hitch a fading star.” You express this well (as throughout the poem and I understand your viewpoint but in terms of content it’s a half truth. People are complex. Most of us have good & bad motives mixed up in most of our actions.
    Sunday morning I attended my church’s version of the Lord’s table, the Eucharist, the Mass that we call “The Act of Consecration of Man”. Its because we are weak, inadequate confused beings with bad inside as well as good we were given the sacrament as I am sure you must feel yourself.
    A lot of good came from his initiative and it was not all selfserving. How to way another’s soul?


    1. Thank you for your comments and feedback, it does help me. I take your point about the reasons why people do things, especially charitable things, and yes we are all complex and not very straightforward in our reasoning. When I mentioned the “bandwaggon” in this poem it was a play on words as much as anything else, and I liked the way the words “to which to hitch” went together. I suppose I am a product of the cynical 90s where it seemed the charity single really took off, and it always seemed to be singers who had perhaps had their best times already. Or maybe I’m thinking (cynically) of celebrities who go into the jungle to revive a flagging career…? But as you say, people are complex creatures and we are all weak and confused in our own ways so who am I to judge another’s motives?


  2. By the way Pam/Mushy I have written poetry since I was 6 and I am now 68 and a former Head of English in a secondary school. If you need any help, guidance or friendly critical comments I would be delighted to help if I can


    1. Thank you for your comments. I suppose a lot of the cultural references in my poem are peculiar to the 1980s in the UK – George and Andrew are George Michael and Andrew Ridgely from Wham for example – and I hadn’t considered that it wouldn’t carry across the pond! I will try another one another time and see if that one is any better 🙂


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