In Competition No. 2876 you were invited to submit an example of an ill-advised foray by a poet laureate, past or present, into rap.
Andrew Motion’s ‘rap’, written to mark Prince William’s 21st birthday, featured in a Telegraph piece by Charlotte Runcie on the worst poems by great writers and elicited such withering comments on the BBC website as, ‘Is that rap with a silent “c”, then?’ and ‘It’s my Dad saying “hey, cool man!” over and over again.’
Bill Greenwell’s rapping John Betjeman takes the extra fiver this week. Betjeman has form. On his delightful 1974 album Banana Blush he read his poetry against a backdrop of music by Jim Parker. John Peel was a fan and ‘A Shropshire Lad’ was named single of the week by NME.
The other winners take £30 apiece. Matt Quinn was good, but missed the deadline. This was a difficult one, so congratulations all round.
When it retro in Metroland, it dub in da suburbs,
It priceless in Ruislip, yo wid fish dish en croute,
Or hab dinner in Pinner, or grub where dey rub herbs
On da chicken in brick, wid inscrutable fruit —
And it retro in Metroland, it da Buckingham ducks
Yo wid sleek glossy beaks on da pond over yonder,
Or Amersham ham, or da chukka wid pucks
Wid da ladies down from Hurlingham, Amanda and Wanda —
Now it retro in Metroland, where dey nurture da birches,
Where da half-timbered limber up, joshin at squash,
Or brood over roods yo and purchasin old churches,
And da chuffas hit da buffas, and da posh hab da dosh —
Yo it retro in Metroland where da kudos house be Tudor,
And da bitches wear da britches, wid a racquet dey smack it,
And dey all be good in Chorleywood, and da dudes be ruder,
Wid respect fo architecture, wid a packet yo can hack it.
In da crib, she gives a shudder,
dis fine shortie hawks da brudder,
tinks he is a gangsta mudda.
Yo, she baggin Lancelot.
Down she swagga to the water
wid some sticky and a quarter,
den dis juiced an jiggy daughter
bounces down to Camelot.
Down she floats throughout the hood,
ridin dirty, shhmokin good,
an dey cross demselves in blood,
da wide-eyed crew from Camelot.
But Lancelot, da pimp on duty
busts a grape about her beauty,
says, ‘She has a bad-ass bootie,
dis hottie from Shallot.’
He da fox, urban fox, he da streety-meety fox
wi’ da paws ’n’ da snout, he da findy-findy-out,
he na prince, he da man, he da Can! I-Can!I-Can!
He na king, he na queen, ha da man da runs da scene.
Ain’t na pike, wi’ na mic, stuffed-up body no one like,
pike na looking out for uvvers, pike da takes out all da bruvvers,
pike na even get da chips, fish wi’ teeth inside da lips,
ain’t na pike. Like a bike, slides da streets da way he like.
Ain’t na hawk, ain’t na squawk staying stiller than da stork,
snooty-tooty in da sky, haughty-flaunty it on high,
keep-like-this, keep-like-this, biggy birdie take da piss,
ain’t no hawk. Got a walk, trots the snappy snazzy talk.
He da fox, w’i da stink, ha da loadsa loadsa think,
ha da man wi’ da mind, he da poet-show-it kind,
he da one when ya blink puts da foxy in da ink,
he da fox, he da rhyme, he da biggest-biggest time.
I’m Colley Cibber, I aint no fibber,
A dramaturge with the urge
To rhyme like an ad-libber.
I get slated, berated
By Pope and other folk
Who think they’re elevated
But, bro, they should call me that
Cos Colley’s Poet Laureate.
Another fact: I can act:
It’s how I max my rap’s impact.
You shoulda seen ’em
When I was under the proscenium,
They was tight packed, attention rapt.
Theirs or yours, I don’t need no applause
Nor bling: I got a patron in Da King.
No. 2879: rehabilitation
Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy rehabilitates Thomas Cromwell. You are invited to provide a scene in which a well-known villain from history or literature (please specify) is shown in a more kindly light. Email entries of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 31 December.
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