Poetry man not adverse to elections
He has translated and recorded some of the older stuff such as ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, and has performed at Arts Festivals round the country and at the International Medieval Congress.
He is also an organic gardener who was once a smallholder in Mobberley keeping goats, sheep, fowl and bees. He is standing in two major Elections this spring.
Michael is a veteran of General Elections. In the 1970s he was a member of The Ecology Party which later became The Green Party. But he decided to stand as the ultra-green Feudal Party in Withington in 1979 and again in 1983. Then he took on Neil (and Christine) Hamilton in Tatton in 1987, and again in 1992 when he polled 410 votes.
At this time Michael was leading a ‘simple’ life in Mobberley, and later in Tatton. For fifteen years he lived without electricity or a motor vehicle, first in farm out-buildings and then in a wooden caravan. He claims to have “won” the 1987 election “because Hamilton didn’t actually live in the constituency, nor did any of the others.”
When Martin Bell famously took on Hamilton in 1997, Michael stood a good chance, he reckons, of saving his deposit at last. He had long and strongly campaigned against plans for a second runway at Manchester Airport. Indeed, he gave evidence in person at the Public Enquiry, even singing one of his poems to the Inspector.
He was not allowed to play his penny-whistle but did cross-examine the Airport’s ‘Head of Environment’ for several hours. Later he did some “weekend tunnelling”, as he puts it, with the ‘eco-warriors’.
But he stood down from the 1997 election, not wishing to become a part of “a circus line-up of about eight ‘fringe’ candidates which included ‘Miss Moneypenny’s Glamorous One Party’”. (Michael adds that he doesn’t think that ‘Miss Moneypenny’ was actually a disguised Christine Hamilton).
After a fallow period during which the somewhat unfortunately named Feudal Party was, as Michael says, “put on the compost heap”, he re-emerged in 2005 with a prototype ‘poetry party’ and gained 239 votes. Now that The True English (Poetry) Party is formally established with The Electoral Commission, it is having its first full outing this year.
Michael would not claim to be a politician. But he has two great interests. “One is in the land and its proper husbandry, and the other is in poetry and the proper husbandry of that”. He realises that others are better fitted to tackle environment and other matters than he is (he is a member of Friends of the Earth, an organisation that he greatly admires); but with regard to English poetry he reckons to have a special expertise, especially in matters of rhythm.
Michael calls himself ‘a poetician’. He considers that there is a lot of muddled thinking in the field of poetry, and perhaps a growing disdain for the original craft principles. He says, “When a Professor of Poetry can claim on the B.B.C. that the neat and sometimes noble limerick isn’t a poem at all, something’s wrong. Nobody is prepared to say what poetry truly is any more. We are failing to educate the children well enough in this respect. And this a political concern”.
Michael thinks that we need to think clearly in matters of poetry as in all matters. “All is connected. Muddled thinking, and cheating, led us into the disgraceful and disastrous war in Iraq”. In response to this he has written:
Bang or Whimper?
As a road-side bomb thumps near Baghdad
Lops the legs from some poor home-grown lad,
hough we can’t say who lied,
Rest assured that he died
In the arms of some ‘Westminster Dad’.
And the other major Election? Michael will be standing for the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford. It is a part-time post for five years. He thinks he is fitted for it. He needs twelve Oxford graduates to nominate him before May 6th, and then as many as possible to vote for him. Are there any boys and girls out there prepared to take a punt on him?