More Bloody Clerihews

Edited by Andy Jackson and George Szirtes

Following their widely ignored 2019 anthology The Call of the Clerihew, George Szirtes and Andy Jackson make another doomed attempt to interest the world in the ridiculous four-line biographical poetic form known as the Clerihew. Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875–1956) when he was a schoolboy, the Clerihew is a childish and pointless anti-Panegyric consisting of flat-footed, Hudibrastic quatrains designed to lower the tone and cut everyone down to size. Some have called the Clerihew a mini-epic in four lines. Others have called it the Limerick’s smarter cousin. WH Auden once wrote an entire book of the bloody things. This new selection of short, satirical and often scurrilous poems throws together poets like Martin Rowson, Ian Duhig, Michael Rosen, WN Herbert, Jacqueline Saphra, Christopher Reid and Anne Berkel as they take down various actors, architects, chefs, comedians, detectives, puppets and philosophers

Cover image: GK Chesterton, (from EC Bentley’s Biography for Beginners)

Sample Poem

Literary Figures – 20th Century

Edgar Rice Burroughs Ploughed several literary furrows, And though he wrote a lot Is now The Man That Time Forgot. Andy Jackson John Steinbeck Wrote misery in every line. Heck, Even Doris Lessing Was less depressing. Andy Jackson Dennis Wheatley Wrote fast but neatly. It was satanic trash Which made mountains of cash. Sarah Walker Antoine de Saint-Exupery Wrote stuff which was super. He Has been very famous since The Little Prince. Sarah Walker Philip K Dick Was very quick To realise when he fell asleep That he was dreaming of an electric sheep. Graham Mummery Arundhati Roy Has a name designed to annoy Anyone not arty-farty. What’s wrong with Roy Arundhati? George Szirtes Alexandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn Should have put more funny bits in The works he sent abroad: Think Hattie Jacques in Cancer Ward. Tim Turnbull Norman Mailer Liked the odd sailor Such as Jean Genet. He was funny that way. John Muckle George Bernard Shaw Wrote 250,000 letters or more. There’s no record of him having writer’s cramps. I would like the value of the stamps. Simon Williams Fyodor Dostoevsky Was taking a brisk stroll down the Nevsky, Whiling away the time Between punishment and crime. George Szirtes Bertolt Brecht Knew what was echt. As you’d expect It was when talking of Verfremdungseffekt. Michael Rosen Graham Greene Is no has-been. He took second place In a competition to write with his grace. Angela Topping Ted Hughes Sang the blues When he’d had a laugh With Sylvia Plath. Carole Bromley JB Priestley Was far from beastly, He had the balls To write An Inspector Calls. Carole Bromley Maud Gonne Told Yeats it was not on, And he had the same result When he tried Iseult. Matthew Francis Harper Lee Appeals to me, Her book was fun But she stopped at one. Carole Bromley Harper Lee – You’ve written a second book? Dearie me! While that’s terrific It’s hardly prolific. Andy Jackson DH Lawrence Had an abhorrence For women with the slightest imperfections. Pity we never heard their reflections! Harry Gallagher Albert Camus Is better than you. None of you guys Have a Nobel Prize. Joe Williams Jean Plaidy Was an amazing lady Who took much of the mystery Out of history. Sue Barnard Muriel Spark Found writing a lark, But it was a surprise She never got a Booker Prize. Francis Moorcroft Jean Rhys Never had any peace. She took a voyage in the dark And ended up sleeping in a park. Deborah Sibbald Jeffrey Archer Anticipated a new literary departure. He said ‘O for a Muse of Fire!’ The Muse said ‘Get lost, Liar!’ Tom Deveson Willie Russell Flexed a muscle And for a moment looked surly, Then out popped Rita and Shirley. Harry Gallagher James Joyce Had a unique voice, Although his vocabulary Upset the constabulary. Mark Totterdell George Orwell Wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, well Aware that the date Was 1948. Mark Totterdell Arthur Miller Complained ‘What a killer! Marilyn’s bum is so very goosable, How will I ever finish The Crucible?Mark Totterdell Ernest Hemingway Didn’t quite write the Fleming way, But I’ve read feminist analyses that show They were both reprehensibly macho. Robert Lindsay Marcus Gertrude Stein Wrote lots of very fine Books. Nobody can understand ’em So you can just read bits at random. Susan Jordan Kazuo Ishiguro Was very pro-Euro: After having his say, He was named Remainer of the Day. Robert Lindsay Marcus W Somerset Maugham, On particularly good form, Wrote Of Human Bondage way way way Before EL James wrote Fifty Shades of Grey. Mark Totterdell Arnold Wesker Said, ‘Est-ce que Vous voulez Voir ma piece au sujet de Soupe de Poulet?’ Tom Deveson Will Self – Will. Self. Name And nature the same. Tom Deveson Don DeLillo – I suggest you read his books with a pillow. You’ll keep Dropping asleep. Tom Deveson Angela Carter Had three desiderata – The pelagic, the camouflagic And magic. Tom Deveson Eugene O’Neill Would have a broader appeal If his plays went the other way: A Long Night’s Journey into Day. Tom Deveson Anthony Powell Was a kindly soul, But he’d rip out your bowel If you called him ‘Powell’. Tom Deveson F Scott Fitzgerald Never drove a Triumph Herald. His car of choice Would be a swanky great big yellow Rolls Royce. Mark Totterdell Iris Murdoch Loved dandelion and burdock, But she could never persuade AS Byatt To try it. Mark Totterdell e e cummings’ works are worth a few thumbings, but they wouldn’t half read better with the occasional capital letter. Mark Totterdell Dodie Smith, According to myth, Wrote the first draft of The Hundred and One Dalmatians Featuring Alsatians. Mark Totterdell Julian Barnes Wrote True-Blue British Boys’ Own Ripping Yarns – OK but with ideally a Little less Francophilia. Tom Deveson Marcus J. D. Salinger Has no serious challenger As distiller of the essence Of tortured adolescence. Robert Lindsay Stephen King Wrote the ring-bing-bing-bing-bing Chorus bit For Crazy Frog’s greatest hit. Tim Turnbull Vladimir Nabokov Made the singer from Abba cough When he told her about the size Of his collection of butterflies. Robert Lindsay Marcus Gabriel Garcia Marquez Liked to wander around starquez. No-one wanted to see him nude So he wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude. Robert Lindsay Marcus Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Came up with plots that could scarcely have been loonier; When he thought of one that he couldn’t work out He’d pretend it was by Kilgore Trout. Robert Lindsay Marcus Ouida Wrote novels that today have barely a reader. There is a statue of her opposite a Tesco Metro In Bury-St-Edmunds. How retro! Jim Lindop Arthur Ransome Was most awfully handsome And rather good at sailing Except when the wind was galing. Susan Jordan Harold Pinter Quipped to Santa one winter, ‘Your reindeer, Mr. Claus, is Notable for its long paws es.’ Robert Lindsay Marcus Ezra Pound Somehow never got around To putting Esperanto Into a Canto. Christopher Reid Flann O’Brien Found it very tryin’ Folk wouldn’t distinguish between Him and Myles naGopaleen. Judith Taylor Thomas Mann Faced a ban By the Nazis. ‘It’s because he is decadent’ said Hermann Goering. My history teacher thought it should be ‘Because he’s so boring.’ Graham Mummery John Wyndham Came up with some working titles, then binned ‘em As probable failures: ‘The Chicken Wakes’. ‘The Midwich Cockapoos’. ‘The Day of the Dahlias’. Mark Totterdell