RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

14 December 2007

Wendy Cope. Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, 1986



Wendy Cope. MAKING COCOA FOR KINSGLEY AMIS. Faber, London 1986.

Current Selling Prices
$100-$150 /£50-£70


POETRY / HUMOUR
Much loved and admired poet, sometimes compared to Betjeman but lighter in tone. However she has succeeded him as best selling poet in Britain. Her second book 'Serious Concerns' sold 100,000 copies and signed copies can be had for a tenner. I can probably get away with quoting a haiku from the book by her creation Jason Strugnell (Wendy is notoriously prickly about copyright infringement but not quite in the Salinger league...)

November evening:
The moon is up, rooks settle,
The pubs are open.
Vernon Scannell, who sadly died at 85 this year, wrote a good piece on her reproduced at Geocities. Not an easy man to please and a great poet himself (and a boxer in his time) Vernon is generous about this book and compares her 'to accomplished writers of light verse such as Winthrop Praed, C. S. Calverley and J. K. Stephen.' Odd to see Virginia Woolf's cousin (and suspected molester) J.K. Stephen in the list, some of his poems were so misogynistic that he was suspected of being Jack the Ripper. Vernon concludes that her success is a mystery to him and notes that her short poems are her finest.

VALUE? 'Light verse' (a category not used much anymore and apparently disliked by Wendy Cope herself) is not a big money category but a fine in jacket copy of this can, on a good day, be converted into a £50 note.

TRIVIA. Wendy Cope wrote an attack on internet plagiarism in The Grauniad last Saturday 'You like my poems? So pay for them.' A reasoned, indignant piece but she failed to get the message understood by the likes of Prince and Radiohead that if you release some stuff for free people hear it and buy lots of your product. She appears to think that people download poems (do they?) and unwittingly sides herself with Metallica, the much cursed Gods of metal, who have batteries of lawyers stopping infringements. The internet is a buying machine, people read the poems, love them and go to Amazon and buy the book in '1 click'. Pomes Pennyeach. She concludes the piece with a short poem, not unburdened with clichés, that I shall risk a short spell at Ford Open Jail by quoting. Wendy is musing about some post-cards with poems by A.E. Housman (now just out of copyright) that she found in a gift shop:

POSTCARD POEM
Will they do this, I wonder
With verse of mine or yours
When we are six feet under
And deaf to all applause?
We bring home little bacon
En route for that long night
And when the profit's taken
We're out of copyright.

3 comments:

Kingsley Anus said...

She should spend more time worrying about writing a good poem. So Wendy has never photocopied a page out of a book or printed text from the internet? Bollocks.

Argyle Jumper said...

Have reported the copying of Ms Cope's poems, expect a visit from the local constabulary and a hefty fine from the local J.P. -a personal friend of mine. I should cocoa!

Bella said...

Postcard Poem is very poor stuff--is it intentional? Plath she ain't nor Emily D Or B, sadly. Bella