This poem was published in the exhibition catalogue for the NAS Alumni Show No.1.
I was invited to recite the poem at the opening of the exhibition, but did not do so.
I prepared these notes to introduce the poem. I include here also, the poem.
Notes: This poem was written in 1992. You will notice that things have changed here at the art school since then. More things haven’t changed though which gives the poem an historic interest. Language also has changed since then. Once strong language is now not disguised in abbreviation as it is in this poem. There are several kinds of shit. Horseshit is nonsense. A deadshit is somebody who tries and fails. Bullshit is a lie and ratshit is rubbish. Only two of those shits were commonly abbreviated, being BS, for bullshit and RS for ratshit.
You have entered a place of great beauty and power.
It is dark, it is quiet and you have to enquire.
There’s a queue and a test, best dressed is poor.
The machinery’s broken, don’t break the door!
Of winning and status, of dreamed success,
If you think you can make it, then make it again!
To make it from here, is to break from the pen.
The messages, the lessons, are etched in the walls
The veins are the teachers who lurk in the halls.
They think, but they’re actually carried along
Their voice is a trick laid down by the song.
The waves are the students who slightly demur
They ripple and tease a distant shore.
The water is left in puddles and pools.
Each generation walks through the news.
There’s lock, stock and barrel, a range and a zoo
Every opinion is riding, make that one, make that two.
We know that it’s happening. It’s happened before.
There’s a clock in the passage, a knock on the door.
The hour is coming, the hour is here.
The hour comes every year.
To be neither in fashion nor out of date
To be neither too early nor ever too late.
To be part of the middle of a missing core,
While around the edges they yearn for more.
Michael Snape 1992