If there was one subject I disdained at school, it was English Lit. Too girlie by half, it was. Especially for us scientists. What use was it? I never clicked that literature was a powerful way of communicating a message, despite my enjoying the (anti-)war poetry of Wilfred Owen. Eng Lit was the only O-Level for which I didn’t revise. For some reason, I failed it.
My views began to soften a few years after leaving school. An article in Buzz Magazine extolled the virtues of a Christian rock poet called Steve Turner. I sought out his first book ‘Tonight We Will Fake Love’. The edition I have sells for £45 today on the Internet. If only I had the original edition from Charisma! A few years later it was followed by ‘Nice And Nasty’ , which contains his famous poem ‘History Lesson’:
And to drive home the point, that poem appears four times throughout the book.
Other collections followed, notably ‘King Of Twist’, and Turner also ventured into rock books (having started as a rock journalist). He wrote biographies of, or titles themed on, the Beatles, U2, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison and the rôle of religion in music. He also wrote a splendid book on a Christian vision for the arts entitled ‘Imagine‘.
But just lately I’ve come back to his books, and here’s how it happened. Recently I spoke at a midweek renewal meeting as a favour to the friend who runs it. He met me before the meeting and gave me an envelope. I protested.
“No, Mike, I’m doing this tonight because you are my friend. I don’t want a fee.”
But he insisted. “It’s not a fee, it’s a gift. Spend it on the children.”
I soon knew what I wanted to do with this gift. Since the mid-90s, Steve Turner has written collections of poetry for children. I have longed for the time when I could introduce our two to his work. Off I set on a virtual journey to [the] Amazon, and into my basket I placed ‘The Day I Fell Down The Toilet‘, ‘Dad You’re Not Funny‘, ‘I Was Only Asking‘, ‘Don’t Take Your Elephant To School‘ and ‘The Moon Has Got His Pants On‘.
They arrived this weekend. For the last two days there has been unbridled hilarity at our dining table as the children have either asked me to read another poem to them, or they have read some out loud. Sometimes the language needs a little explanation, but Steve Turner is giving my children a further introduction to the joys of language at a younger age than I ever had. What a gift.