Hello this is Ross Sutherland. I’m here to give some thoughts on my poem “Richard Branson”. Though they are just thoughts! Please feel free to ignore them if they contradict your own thoughts.
This is a poem about money. As you can imagine, most people who call themselves a poet don’t take home much of a salary. For work, I teach poetry freelance in schools, prisons, community centres, etc. Work comes in fits and bursts, punctuated by long periods of poverty.
I lived for many years in Cambridge England. Cambridge is a very affluent city. Sometimes it’s hard to live in a place like that. My poetry notebooks are full of passive aggressive comments about money.
In this poem, I collaged together a series of these notebook pages into a single poem. There’s not really an argument here. I’m just trying to get across that feeling of stasis & powerlessness that comes from being broke.
Recently I’ve become interested in the ‘Flarf’ movement, which uses a cut-up technique to violently switch between conflicting registers of language. The music that drives Flarf tends to be sharp, punky. There’s humour in the violence as well, but it’s the kind of laughing that rises from the stalls of horror films. Laughter from shock.
I’m trying to use a bit of the Flarf technique in this poem. My thoughts are jumbled up, mixed in with quotations and snippets of television. I’m not trying to confuse the reader, I’m just trying to use collage to create a feeling.
This poem postulates a problem, but it offers no solutions! Then again, I’m suspicious of any poem that tries to offer a solution to an argument. A poem is a great way of explaining a problem (after all, a poem can hold two contradictory opinions without collapsing them!). But poetry feels like a terrible way to solve a problem. Poetry is too slippery, too manipulative!
ps. I loved Simone Kornappel’s hyperlinked version of the poem! It felt like the perfect response (another collage, no less). I also kinda prefer it to my original. I know very little about the Internet Poetry movement and the use of hyperlinks in poetry, but I’m all for it.
Man I sound old.
Finally, the title is a reference to the line, “a millionaire’s hairstyle / is trapped in the era / they first made their money.” To prove my point, here’s a tumblr of Richard Branson over the ages. Some things never change:
If you have any thoughts on the poem, I’d love to hear them! Good, bad, indifferent. Fine! I can take it I promise.