Exclamation Marx!

On a cold Sunday, cocooned in my morning blanket, poet Neil Laurenson sent me a message. “Would I like to have a look at his poetry?”. I wasn’t going anywhere, so trapped in fact, I could hardly move. So I said “yep, no worries, I’ll take a look”. A few minutes later a big block of red and that iconic face flashed into view. The words Exclamation Marx! stamped hard. Dad joke or manifesto? I would soon find out. The whole thing seemed a little dated. Brexit was storming and I wasn’t really sure of what was coming my way. ‘Wait a minute?’ I thought, pausing for what seemed like an eternity. The traffic stilled, the birds ceased. It was so quiet, you could hear a pun drop. Yep, cool! I wriggle in my pillow and read on. I am a big fan of the pun, that painful past time that can turn a roomful of people into a cringing mass of spasmoids. Seems Neil can’t help himself. It is only a person of high standards, left leanings and straight out talent that can get away with it page after page. Somehow he pulls it off. Though Neil doesn’t seem to get it right with politics, with the missus, or his god for that matter, at least he can turn it his way with a few punchlines. Sometimes, just when you think he has a brilliant thought, where no turn of phrase can be tampered with, Neil just can’t help himself. Like a game of jinx, he said it last, so I am stuck here until the end. In under an hour I was lost in it, just enjoying it for no other reason than the sheer spontaneous stupidity of life. I was trapped in a room with the Trotskyites and hey nothing wrong with that. Some pieces felt throw away, best heard delivered rapid fire on an open mic, but some really had me smiling. So yes, there is a lot of comedy in this poetry, like rally’s down my local town hall in the 80’s. we are advised at the start ‘TO BE READ ALOUD’. I like that, but my inner voice can turn it on and assume the persona required. It starts with a cute play on words in an education system that is far removed from the ideologies of the left. It’s pomposity and thought process very droll. It does have a poeticism to some punchlines, I would love to have more moments, like Death In Basingstoke, “the cat watched the halo of flies above the mouse he had killed three days ago” There is of course more recent findings and I don’t mind a little blue, the jab in the ribs. My favourite being The Ringmaster’s Confession “for three and a half years I have wanted to swing from her chandeliers” ooh er missus, smirks aplenty. Lots of stabs at past and current pollies, the uncovering of Thatcher’s papers and her aversion to dildos, well hung parliaments and the rest. I like it when Neil shows his absurd side. Like in Spoke Too Soon and what happens when you swallow acorns and the tender wind in the willowesque play of Mole. Exclamation Marx! is not something that I would dip in and out of regularly, but Neil Laurenson, the poet from Worcester, definitely made the sun stream a little brighter through my blinds that day. You can connect with Neil via twitter, you can support Neil by purchasing via Silhouette Press

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