In Competition No. 3134 you were invited to submit a poem featuring one of T.S. Eliot’s practical cats getting to grips with the modern world.
Your 21st-century reincarnations of Eliot’s felines (the poems were originally published in 1939 and inspired by the poet’s four-year-old godson, who invented the words ‘pollicle’ for dogs and ‘jellicle’ for cats) were terrific. Alas long lines mean space for fewer winners and some fine Macavitys narrowly missed the cut (take a bow, Nick Syrett, David Shields and Hamish Wilson). I was sorry, too, not to have had room for Bill Greenwell’s Jellicles and Brian Allgar’s Growltiger, the Tory Cat.
This week’s top cats are printed below and pocket £35 each.
Bustopher Jones has firm flesh on his bones, In short, he has ceased to be fat, He had a rebirth and he’s saving the earth, He’s a Vegan Society cat. And this is the reason, when game is in season, He turns his impeccable back, And the merest glimpse of those winkles and shrimps Makes him yearn for a plant-based quick snack. Instead of pigs’ cheeks, he eats chickpeas and leeks, Or a spinach and kale cassoulet. If it’s growing, he’ll try it; he finds on this diet The pounds just keep falling away. Walking out, slim and svelte, he must tighten his belt, Or his trousers, well-cut, might descend. Yet it’s said, now he’s lean, that it’s cool to be green And that wearing white spats is on-trend! Sylvia Fairley Growltiger is a Boho Cat who gentrifies the slums: he’s living on a Dutch barge with some floorboard-sanding chums. From Peckham Rye to Hoxton he’s developing the stews, rejoicing in his title as ‘The Doer-up of Mews’. The cottagers of Rotherhithe know something of his crimes: a pop-up restaurant appears that’s big on kaffir limes; kombucha in the greasy spoon, some tofu at the pub, then there’s no more work for strippers down the Deptford Social Club.