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Spectator competition winners: odes on a Grayson Perry urn

5 November 2016

9:45 AM

5 November 2016

9:45 AM

For the latest competition you were invited to compose odes on a Grayson Perry urn.

Jonathan Jones memorably described being in a roomful of Grayson Perry’s pots as ‘like being trapped in a room full of trendy folk talking bollocks’. Frank McDonald obviously agrees with this assessment. His ode begins: ‘Do Grayson Perry urns deserve an ode?/ Has modern art not shamed the Muse enough?/ That looks for beauty in a tortured toad/ And loads our galleries with frightful stuff?’

Elsewhere, the entry was chock-full of adroit Keatsian references. Honourable mentions go to Frank Upton, G.M. Davis, Sylvia Fairley and Graham King. The deserving winners below take £20 each.

W.J. Webster
A form of classic shape and grace,
Here covered in graffiti style,
Which offers us a Janus face,
      Half snarl, half smile.
It looks at once both butch and fey;
A line that joins the modish dots
To illustrate a crafty way
      Of making pots.
It’s true, of course, that ancient Greeks
Made lust and war a common theme
On vases not the chaste antiques
      Of Keatsian dream.
But potters then worked namelessly,
Content as artists to exult
In god-sent skills, not aim to be
      Themselves a cult.

Brian Murdoch
Thou still unvarnished piece of crockery!
Calm and serene in Keatsian quietness,
Your silent form will brook no mockery,
Your flowery tale matches the potter’s dress.
What wild abstractions, colourful and gay!
No more the longing nymphs or unheard
Your Attic shape, though, cannot be displaced
To any attic! Form is what must stay.
You and your maker typify our times.
Beauty and truth are relative, like taste.

Chris O’Carroll
Thou bride — or art thou bridegroom in bride’s
      dress? —
Thou piping, timbrel-jangling history’s child
Adorned in every hue but quietness,
Near ecstasy, approximately wild,
Thy gloss post-modern on a classic shape
Excites, affronts and charms at the same time;
Intoxicated as by some mad grape,
We hear thy maker clang his eldritch chime.

Thy goddesses and gods, thy girls and boys
Attend for ever to sweet, unheard song,
Or not so sweet sometimes perhaps; just joy’s
Loud palette with no dark notes might feel
Thy scenes hint at some yet unfolding way
As brides/grooms ravish one another’s eyes
And learn a new, unspoken mode of play.
Thou art true beauty, not mere Turner Prize.

John Whitworth
Grayson, Grayson, Queen of Kitschy,
Wild and witty, bold and bitchy,
How I love your Grayson basin,
Big enough to wash your face in,
How I love your urn!

Grayson, Grayson, Queen of Pissness,
Sheer epitome of thisness,
Grayson in your party frock, a
Visage, ravaged like a boxer,
How I love your urn!

Grayson, Grayson, Queenly Potter,
Clay, ceramic, Terra Cotta,
Grayson, flaming like a comet,
Make the middle-classes vomit.
How I love your urn!

Max Ross
I’d love to have a Grayson Perry urn
To brighten up my bedsit. It would say
Good morning to my mess, nor would it spurn
The coffee stains time hasn’t wiped away.
I’d love to own an urn by Grayson Perry
And put it in a place for all to see.
Possessing it would make existence merry
And tell the world that fate had smiled on me.
A Grayson Perry urn would shine delight
On places where a dozen flies lie dead,
And should I wake despondent in the night
I’d take my Grayson Perry into bed.
Alas, I’m always one step from depression,
And fortune sniggers, everywhere I turn,
So if I cannot have that prized possession
I’d like to be a Grayson Perry urn.

Basil Ransome-Davies
A Grayson, not a Grecian, urn
Appears to take the piss,
Bemusing simple souls who yearn
For flowery tales. Get this:

Picture a tree. It’s bare and blue.
Picture some famous names.
Dial up your mind and tune it to
Interpretation games.

The oddball birds who throng the tree?
The highbrow names misspelt?
A scripto-visual mystery,
It makes your brain stem melt.

Some say it’s art and some say not,
Just rubbish for the bin.
Who knows? But it could be a pot
To keep some hashish in.

Alan Millard
This urn called ‘Troubled’ troubled is, for sure,
Its curious decorations make no sense:
A car parked by a cottage dark and dour;
Four paintings on its wall; a broken fence;
A chimney stack bedaubed with X and S
(Which, possibly, denotes X marks the Spot);
Bare trees; a swirly sky; — all meaningless,
In short it’s just a weird, peculiar pot
That tells us nothing much although we know
That car will never leave its parking place,
No leaves will ever on those branches grow
Nor any in that cottage show his face.
Was he who made this troubled urn inept?
One has to ask, what is the point of it?
Perhaps this pot no purpose has except
To hide some sorry soul’s cremated grit.

The next challenge is to submit your own nine-line twist on Robert Herrick’s poem ‘Whenas in silks my Julia goes’, beginning your version ‘Whenas in [— ] my Julia [—]’. Please email entries to by midday on 16 November.

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