So much of so many people’s lives is spent at work, and yet too few poems and stories reflect this (perhaps following the principle of escapism; we’d rather think of something less boring). For Billy, however, the job of a roofer – often monotonous, sometimes offering beautiful views – is no distraction, but rather a tonic and inspiration to his poetic work.
Poetry should not be an obscure academic avenue but something natural, like singing, which all of us feel free to do at opportune, or innopportune, moments. Letford reminds us of this in a refreshing way, capturing amusing and touching insights from the world around him with a skill that seems almost artless but is, in fact, extremely accomplished.
Letford insists that all poetry should be read aloud, and is happy now to accept the label of ‘performance poet’. But for those not yet familiar with his work, we can only strongly recommend that you order up his book from Carcanet. What follows is a selection of wonderfully memorable ideas and phrases from Letford’s performance:
“acknowledge the moon, she was part of the earth once…”
“we’re no dodos, forget about the fields, Frank, we can fly, look at the sky…”
“the god of inebriation…. The same Glasgow drunk on the back seat of every bus”
“I keep my red stiletto heels at home in the freezer…”
“two people rooting around in the dark for something beautiful, so we could grind it to dust…”
“love… if at all possible”
“fuck them, Gran, any way you can…”
“we stumble into youth by accident and spend the rest of our lives trying to get home”.