Monday, 9 March 2015

Poetry Hallway - Introducing Celebrated Fenland Poet, Croyland Otter

Poetry Hallway - Introducing Celebrated Fenland Poet, Croyland Otter

Some time ago, we at Poetry Hallway held a competition aimed squarely at expanding the online population of 'Super Poet'. Finding people of a suitable calibre is a near-impossible task when one considers the lengths to which evil will go just to prevent artistry from engaging with its target audience. In much the same way that a Premiership football team hoovers up talent, the International Society Of Poets has spent the last two decades rounding up the nation's poetic geniuses, for whom they publish an initial offering before forcing them into a forever-exile. Indeed, but for a handful, they are never heard from again.

Creativity in the Internet is hard to come by. Indeed, it crops up occasionally, like an attractive slime mold growing in a college accommodation shower, but for the most part the web is a creative desert. The fault must lie firmly at the fetid feet of the International Society Of Poets. Elevated to the ranks of Hallway Poet is local celebrity Croyland Otter.

Copyright © 1997 Fenland Citizen
Born in an ordinary fashion to two parents, Whittlesey resident Croyland has spent the last forty-five years building a collection of Fen-inspired poetry, which began when he was forced to eat a pint of silt as a punishment by his headmaster. Of this incident, Croyland writes:

"...and the silt was a little gritty to start with. I tried chewing it and it simply made a terrible squeaking sound, which made the headmaster even angrier. Sensing that he might think of a less-squeaky punishment - like gravel - I simply swallowed it whole. And ever since then, I've been a poetry genius, and I've recited my god-like verse at every local Summer fete since."

Croyland was at the centre of controversy when he physically attacked local author Polly Howat during a live tweeting event at Wisbech Library in 2010. Howat was reciting her latest book Malevolent Ghost Prostitutes Of Crab Marsh in tweet form when Croyland accused her of plagiarising sections of his own book, Grumpy Spectral Seducers Of The Smeeth, which he'd self-published several months earlier. He alleged that the two had met at a speed-dating evening earlier on in the year, and that he had divulged details of some of his projects in return for a follow-up date which never took place.

In the aftermath, Croyland's popularity waned and Howat took him to court. In an effort to raise the funds needed to pay his legal fees, Croyland opened up his home to the public, charging £40 a head to show people around his 2-bedroom bungalow. Howat allegedly dropped the charges after disguising herself as a Canadian tourist and stumping up the entry fee to snoop around Croyland's home. Howat cites her visit as the inspiration for her local history book, 'Fen Slums' and, although Croyland is never directly referenced, it generated enough interest in his previous works for him to once again concentrate on his literary endeavours.

An introduction would be incomplete without an exclusive poem with which to launch Croyland's tenure with Poetry Hallway. After an intensive writing weekend, Otter submitted several dozen rhymes for consideration, and this was, by a parsec, the best.

A Love Affair With Brown
Croyland Otter 
Fenland silt, I love your grain,
The way its colour is just the same
As all the browns which are, in name,
Reminiscent of back-door shame.

Next up: Johnny C on trust.

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