Wendy Cope is very clever She s good at taking much of what poetry holds dear and pricking its balloon Her humour is an acquired taste and one short poem from Strugnell s Haiku sets the tone of this volume, first published in , to great popular acclaim The leaves have fallen And the snow has fallen and Soon my hair also a perfect haiku in form and perfectly ridiculous This is her raison d etre, to highlight the absurd in love, sex, courtship and in the sometimes stuffy, self righteous literary poetry world Cherry Smyth


10 thoughts on “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis

  1. Warwick Warwick says:

    When I was at university and writing endless essays about The Waste Land, few things gave me greater pleasure because I am not a big Eliot fan than pulling out Wendy Cope s Waste Land Limericks , in which she condenses the whole poem into five admirably no nonsense quintains IIn April one seldom feels cheerful Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful Clairvoyantes distress me,Commuters depress me Met Stetson and gave him an earful.IIShe sat on a mighty fine chair,Sparks flew as she tidied her When I was at university and writing endless essays about The Waste Land, few things gave me greater pleasure because I am not a big Eliot fan than pulling out Wendy Cope s Waste Land Limericks , in which she condenses the whole poem into five admirably no nonsense quintains IIn April one seldom feels cheerful Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful Clairvoyantes distress me,Commuters depress me Met Stetson and gave him an earful.IIShe sat on a mighty fine chair,Sparks flew as she tidied her hair She asks many questions,I make few suggestions Bad as Albert and Lil what a pair IIIThe Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep Tiresias fancies a peep A typist is laid,A record is played Wei la la After this it gets deep.IVA Phoenician called Phlebas forgotAbout birds and his business the lot,Which is no surprise,Since he d met his demiseAnd been left in the ocean to rot.VNo water Dry rocks and dry throats,Then thunder, a shower of quotesFrom the Sanskrit and Dante.Da Damyata Shantih.I hope you ll make sense of the notes.This encapsulates quite well her most appealing qualities wit, charm, a knowing literacy as well as the running strain of pastiche which some critics have considered wrongly in my view a kind of anti intellectualism In fact playful rhymes like this come well, it seems obvious to me from a place of appreciation and love, and many other contemporary poets get similar treatment Indeed she has an alter ego called Jake Strugnell a kind of Ted Hughes caricature whom she uses to poke fun at the male literary world Strugnell writes everything from bleak series like the Songs of Budgie nodding at Hughes s Crow to haiku of hilarious banality The cherry blossom In my neighbour s garden Oh It looks really nice.Still, perhaps her best poems are those where she is beingserious, and these tend to revolve around relationships My favourite in this collection her first is the bittersweet ten poem sequence From June to December , much of which has to do with a sort of distinctly English sensible sexiness PreludeIt wouldn t be a good ideaTo let him stay When they knew each other better Not today.But she put on her new black knickersAnyway.I think she s extremely funny, and a much cleverer poet than she often gets credit for, playing deftly with different forms when she needs to I guess I associate her with a kind of Radio 4, middle class British referential literary culture that, for all I know, is not as strong now as it was in the 80s when this came out Maybe that s why she s not much read any I for one miss her


  2. Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks) Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks) says:

    If you like some humour featured in your poetry, this collection may just be for you Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis kicked off with Engineers Corner which was written in response to an article in the Times newspaper by the main council for engineering The rhyming really drew me in Some of the parodies included did make me laugh Sadly, I was hoping for somelight hearted content.


  3. C. Varn C. Varn says:

    While I am not always a fan of a light verse, b parody s of formal poetry, and c British grumpiness, Cope mixes them all so seamlessly that one can t help but be charmed The send up of Eliot and Wordsworth made me almost choke with laughter the wasteland condensed to limmericks and the alter ego of Strugnell who seems a mix of Cope herself and Philip Larkin, also famously formal and grumpy is fascinating.


  4. James Murphy James Murphy says:

    You wait for the title poem, the one with the intriguing title Cope gives it to you on the last page It was a dream I had last week And some kind of record seemed vital I knew it wouldn t be much of a poem But I love the title.That s it Lame and not worth the wait or the joke But everything before is marvelous I personally like the villanelle, and she gives us several I like her take offs on other poets here s Eliot, here s Dickinson and Wordsworth Cope is a funny poet, not afraid to po You wait for the title poem, the one with the intriguing title Cope gives it to you on the last page It was a dream I had last week And some kind of record seemed vital I knew it wouldn t be much of a poem But I love the title.That s it Lame and not worth the wait or the joke But everything before is marvelous I personally like the villanelle, and she gives us several I like her take offs on other poets here s Eliot, here s Dickinson and Wordsworth Cope is a funny poet, not afraid to poke fun at herself and at some giants of poetry The opening poem of the series about and by Jake Strugnell I thought to be a parody of Philip Larkin because it incorporates biographical elements pertaining to him But I think Strugnell is an alter ego for Cope herself, even while the verse reputed to be his is Larkin like In his voice Cope tries on different poetic forms, like the sonnet and the haiku, and I believe she also tries on Ted Hughes This is a well known volume of poetry It made Cope s reputation as shining as it is today, and I m glad I could finally come to it because it s not only impressive in terms of the craft she demonstrates, it s lots of fun, too


  5. Caroline Caroline says:

    Thanks to Warwick for bringing this to my attention So many different things here, all enjoyable.


  6. Lulufrances Lulufrances says:

    Multiple editions of this were tucked away, unsorted, in one of my favourite secondhand bookshops in a lovely seaside town in Suffolk I read a couple of poems on the spot and some lines and passages reminded me of a friend, whom I am going to pass this on to, so I bought it Brilliant and witty and Wendy Cope will have to be readby future moi.Just my cup of tea Cocoa


  7. Stephen Robert Kuta Stephen Robert Kuta says:

    I read this many years ago, and remember it well This book of verse is an enjoyable read.


  8. Jane Branson Jane Branson says:

    Wendy Cope is famously rather grumpy Maybe she really doesn t want to be Poet Laureate, and maybe she has a point about her poems being available for free on the internet Anyway, I think her grumpiness is hilarious Also, she has an amazing way with jarring juxtapositions and edgy parodies I d read a lot of these poems before, but I m not very good at reading poetry collections I m glad I ve read this one properly now There are so many lines that would sum it up, but I ll choose these, on t Wendy Cope is famously rather grumpy Maybe she really doesn t want to be Poet Laureate, and maybe she has a point about her poems being available for free on the internet Anyway, I think her grumpiness is hilarious Also, she has an amazing way with jarring juxtapositions and edgy parodies I d read a lot of these poems before, but I m not very good at reading poetry collections I m glad I ve read this one properly now There are so many lines that would sum it up, but I ll choose these, on the benefits of reading poetry on trains Recent research in railway sociologyShows it s best to read the stuff aloud A few choice bits from Motion s new anthologyAnd you ll be lonelier than any cloud.This strategem s a godsend to reclusesAnd demonstrates that poetry has its uses


  9. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    It s fashionable to be snobby about Wendy Cope But she makes me smile, over and over again Why ask for


  10. Emma Darragh Emma Darragh says:

    I am in love with Wendy Cope s poetry.