A photo of the late John Whitworth‘For John Whitworth (1945-2019)’ by Dwayne Barrick The Society March 21, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Humor, Poetry 15 Comments . A touch of wit is worth its writ in gold. We miss you, John, for being ever bold. You spoke your mind or, rather, wrote it down with learning lightly worn, and played the clown. Your loyal readers understand this truth: Such seriousness requiring a sleuth to figure out just what the poet means clogs the reader’s mind with thick smoke screens. You dared to entertain and make us laugh by impish ribbing and the learned gaffe. Your verse a mix of Geisel and Voltaire (and just a touch of Ginger and Astaire) reminds that lyric needn’t make one sulk as does bad formalism with its bulk of fossilized remembrance of things past in lines that ring more like dead wood than bast. Your lines stay moist and satisfy our thirst. That good enough might just as well be worst inspired your quick mind but slowed your hand: The first word is the last, the last least planned when something deeper comes you don’t expect, becoming the best word in retrospect. You wrote me, It’s much harder to be light since any fool can be ‘deep’: you were right, being one who mastered form and joy that postmodernists are eager to destroy. They have more ideology than art in endless variation: Look! I’m smart. A hero skeptical of the ideal, dismissing Hegel’s children and their spiel of dialectic power-grabs (the goal your Examiners pursue to crush our soul!), you breathe new life into our tired lungs, bring burning coals to lips and purge our tongues. Speak again when we intone your lines wherein the author purposely aligns the signified with words and lives again! Live, and, living, take away the pain we feel now that you’re gone but for your word. You wrote because you knew the world’s absurd with beauty, truth, and goodness and the hell of loss and ruin. How you taught us well to laugh at death and, often, to have fun. You lived up to your word. Your work is done. Dear John, when you were here, we truly knew ye. Forever through your words, we’ll always keep thee. . . . . Dwayne Barrick resides in Ohio and works as an independent grant writer. His poems have appeared in Kin, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, and Southern California Review. His long poem L’avventura, on the great film of the same name by Michelangelo Antonioni, has appeared online at Ragazine.cc. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 15 Responses Gail March 21, 2021 I am so sorry to have come to know of this person’s work posthumously. And so glad you all are here, so that I may know of it at all. A very fine eulogy. Reply Dwayne March 21, 2021 Thank you, Gail, for your kind feedback. It is never too late to discover a wonderful poet and I am glad to help bring his work to your attention. Cheers! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant March 21, 2021 Dwayne, this is a wonderfully wrought poem that captures the essence of the marvelous John Whitworth perfectly – great meter, great rhyme, and an educational message with a witty delivery. Even though I come from Kent, England, and am a huge fan of Wendy Cope, I am ashamed to admit, I have only just discovered the wonders of Whitworth. “The Examiners” is my absolute favorite. I have a poem coming out this afternoon which is inspired by that poem… I only hope I’ve afforded it some sort of justice. Thank you very much for bringing his name to the fore with a fine work of your own. Reply Joseph S. Salemi March 21, 2021 Get John Whitworth’s book “Girlie Gangs.” It’s great. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant March 21, 2021 Thank you! I’ve avoided purchasing the $102.08 edition on Amazon (I love him, but not that much) in favor of the $13 one on ebay. Dwayne March 21, 2021 Thank you, Susan. I am happy to take John’s light and put it in this poem. As I noted above to Gail, better late than never to discover the poetry of one of your late countryman. I appreciate your support! Reply C.B. Anderson March 21, 2021 This poem is a brilliant reflection on a brilliant poet, but this is not the first time Whitworth has come up on these pages. If someone could post a link to Sally Cook’s “What’s a Whit Worth” it would be useful. Mike? Can you find it? Reply Mike Bryant March 21, 2021 How right you are CB… as usual! 🙂 Sally found Mr. Whitworth before many did. Here is the the link to her amazing post: https://classicalpoets.org/2017/02/06/whitworth-over-whitman-a-poem-by-sally-cook/ Reply Dwayne March 21, 2021 Thank you, C.B., for your kind words. I hope John is smiling in heaven! Reply C.B. Anderson March 21, 2021 And I will allow that he is smiling wherever he happens to be. I don’t know whether there is a special place in heaven for those who expose hypocrisy, but I hope so. Paul Freeman March 22, 2021 A fitting tribute, Dwayne, made all the more fitting now I’ve delved into John Whitworth’s works. Four of Whitworth’s poems, read by the man himself, are here: https://poetryarchive.org/poet/john-whitworth/ Reply Dwayne March 23, 2021 Thanks, Paul, for your support. Long live John! Reply Kevin Rainbow March 22, 2021 A much deserved tribute! On a small critical note, though, I can’t help but notice some problems in the final lines: “Dear John, when you were here, we truly knew ye. Forever through your words, we’ll always keep thee.” The inconsistency of pronouns here (you, ye, thee) sort of sticks out like a sore thumb. I think it would be better to stick to “you” since that is the form used elsewhere in the poem, not only for consistency but because “KNEW ye” and “KEEP thee” don’t really rhyme (anymore than “truly” and “sleepy” do. ) It feels like the poem really deserves a much better final couplet. Reply Dwayne March 23, 2021 Thank you, Kevin, for your critique. Just a few notes. First, you are obviously correct: the last couplet is formed by slant feminine rhymes while all preceding couplets are perfect masculine rhymes. Why? I offer three rationales: First, “ye” is correctly used in this instance. The OED gives the following definition of the word: “II. As object. 4. With singular or plural reference. a. Used instead of you as direct or indirect object, or as the object of a preposition.” The OED then uses numerous examples from extant literature. One is from “Paradise Lost,” book 2, line 840: “I..shall..bring ye to the place.” So, “ye” and “thee” can be used as synonyms. Second, as you know, the phrase, “Dear John, when you were here, we truly knew ye” is a playful and allusive reversal of “Johnny, we hardly knew ye.” The latter is a song by Joseph B. Geoghegan. But John and his poetry was, and is, a known quality. We are fortunate to have gotten to know him and his work while he was alive. No regrets ultimately. Third, the deviation from perfect masculine rhyme is somewhat impish even as the final couplet is a wistful sendoff to a dear man and poet. John was nothing if not a troublemaker; to muss up the rhyme scheme seems, to my mind, appropriate and playful a la Whitworth. The deliberate archaism of the final couplet is playful and sincere in its warmth. It is an affectation allowable in poetry under the right conditions which, I believe, pertain here. Despite my three rationales, I certainly appreciate and understand your reservation and criticism. Thanks for stopping by and making your voice heard! Respectfully, Dwayne Reply Bill Carpenter April 6, 2021 This tribute is classic in its presentation of what the living poet owes the deceased, cast in a form that both acknowledges the debt and testifies to the living poet’s calling. (See Mallarme’s Tombeaux of Poe and Baudelaire.) Mr. Barrick credits John Whitworth with independent-mindedness, scorn for fads, and devotion to invention and craft. He thanks Mr. Whitworth for teaching him, and expresses his gratitude in formal verse, not imitative of Whitworth’s, but expressive of the living poet’s commitment. I’m sure Mr. Whitworth would have appreciated this memorial. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.