This month’s poem is by the well-known local poet, Keith Hutson, who gave a wonderful performance at a recent WordPlay event at the Square Chapel, Halifax,together with Poet Laureate,Carol Ann Duffy. Keith has written many poems about the unusual and often tragic lives of music hall performers.

This month’s poem is an example of how Keith skilfully combines poignancy and wit to create a moving sonnet about not letting our self-worth be decided by other.


Above All

i.m Clarence Willard 1882-1962

Billed as The Man Who Grows, he rose to fame stretching himself – mind over skeleton–then cantilevered back again, his spine a hybrid: column and accordion because–born paralysed, left side – Clarence became a human rack, employed this trick through childhood as his vaudeville defence against exclusion, pity, getting hit.So if, like mine, your stature varies day by day, depending on how high or low friends and the bloody rest reset the bar,be Clarence: make the ebb and flow they see come from a place beyond their harm; let no less able fools control how tall you are.

Taken from Baldwin’s Catholic Geese, published by Bloodaxe.

Keith Hutson is a widely published, award-winning poet who has previously written for Coronation Street and many well-known comedians. He was chosen as a ‘Laureate’s Choice’by Carol Ann Duffy in 2018 and hosts the successful ‘WordPlay’ spoken word evenings at the Square Chapel. Keith’s new collection,Baldwin’s Catholic Geese is published by Bloodaxe. More about Keith can be found here: