Last year around this time I wrote briefly about and posted four examples of Christmas poems I had written over the years for teaching colleagues at this festive time, though their content would stretch the notion of December’s festivities as a celebration! Those selected poems can be found here.
I began writing these in 1993 to include in my Christmas gift Stocking Fillers for staff at my school. Added with other poetry and, later, prose pieces, I would always write a ‘political’ poem as a pastiche of a famous writer’s work and this would focus on education issues of that year. Always irreverent and I hoped amusing, they were nonetheless quite dark as they necessarily reflected on struggles in the job caused invariably by the government and its Education Secretary of the time, often named in the poem, though not always. The fact these began in 1993, thirteen years into my English teaching career, and were usually complaining and often miserable [!], it is both sad in the way they do convey disenchantment as a teacher and also the way this tallies with the time – midway through my 30 years of teaching English – when the hitherto relative bliss of professional independence and creative energy became challenged and changed by government interference and its withering initiatives.
That is a seemingly inauspicious prompt to continued reading, but I hope the further selection of poems I will post over the coming days before Christmas does continue to have value for whatever engagement the pastiche of each provides, as well as empathy as an account of a teacher fighting to cope then who thinks of those continuing to do so now.