About the poet
Sophie Hannah is a poet and crime fiction writer. Her crime fiction frequently appears on...
On the day of the cancellation
The librarian phoned at two.
My reading at Swillingcote Youth Club
Had regrettably fallen through.
The members of Swillingcote Youth Club
Had just done their GCSEs
And demanded a rave, not poems,
Before they began their degrees.
Since this happened at such short notice
They would still have to pay my fee.
I parked in the nearest lay-by
And let out a loud yippee.
The librarian put the phone down
And muttered, ‘Oh, thank the Lord!’
She was fed up of chaperoning
While the touring poet toured.
The girl from the local bookshop
Who’d been told to provide a stall
But who knew that the youth club members
Would buy no books at all
Expressed with a wild gyration
Her joy at a late reprieve,
And Andy, the youth club leader,
And the youth arts worker, Steve,
Both cheered as one does when granted
The gift of eternal life.
Each felt like God’s chosen person
As he skipped back home to his wife.
It occurred to me some time later
That such bliss, such immense content,
Needn’t always be left to fortune,
Could in fact be a planned event.
What ballet or play or reading,
What movie creates a buzz
Or boosts the morale of the nation
As a cancellation does?
No play, is the simple answer.
No film that was ever shown.
I submit that cancellation
Is an art form all of its own.
To give back to a frantic public
Some hours they were sure they’d lose
Might well be my new vocation.
I anticipate great reviews.
From now on, with verve and gusto,
I’ll agree to a month-long tour.
Call now if you’d like to book me
For three hundred pounds or more.
from First of the Last Chances (Carcanet, 2003), © Sophie Hannah 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher.
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