Workshopping Settee in Autumn



Settee in Autumn


The leaves change colour and fall
on the russet settee.

Sticky buds are stuck
down the back of the settee with coins and old biros.

The last, unpicked blackberries
are left to rot on the settee.

A little acorn is starting the long, almost
motionless journey to becoming a mighty settee.

The first frost has set in on the settee.

Three tins of Weightwatcher Tomato Soup are brought
to the harvest festival on the settee.

All across the country, anti-freeze is poured into settees
but still in the dark mornings many settees refuse to start.

Jump leads are attached to settees
and settees are pushed by neighbours up the street.

Dank mists; the sparkling spider’s web
is filigree on the settee.

Two die in Apple-Bobbing Drama on Settee.

There are fir-cones among the outrageous springs
and horsehair in the settee.

There is a pumpkin head on the settee.
There is Guy Fawkes on the settee.

There are settees on settees
on the blazing bonfire of settees.


Peter Sansom, from January (Carcanet, 1994)


→ The boy who colour coded and annotated every mention of settee, inserting the ‘correct’ word above it


→ The boy who said that it’s as though the poet is fed up of talking about autumn and reading about autumn and wants to talk about other things instead


→ The class who had never heard of the word ‘settee’ and needed it explaining to them via a classroom OED definition of ‘settle’


→ Mandy Coe’s exercise Forbidden Words. Before reading the poem we brainstorm as many words as possible which we might expect to find in a poem about autumn.


→ The class who groaned when I said we’re not going to use any of these words, you have to find another way of talking about it, another perspective, like the classroom in autumn, or a kitchen, or a family argument.


→ The man who said ‘I’m having trouble with ‘Apple Bobbing Drama’


→ The poet who chuckled at the word ‘filigree’


→ The boy who said well I guess the thing is it makes you look at autumn in a new way and I said why is that important?


→ I recently heard a polar explorer say that walking to the North Pole was about putting one foot in front of the other  and stopping for frequent cups of tea. Don’t ask me why this belongs in this blog post, I just know it does.


→ The man who said it gets darker as the poem progresses, just like autumn


photo credit: Peter Carpenter

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