Born in Erith, Kent in 1945 Wendy Cope attended St Hilda's College, Oxford where she learned history followed by studies as a teacher at Westminster College of Education, Oxford. After graduating she instructed in primary schools for many years then became and editor for Contact, the Inner London Education Authority magazine while teaching part-time, until becoming a freelance writer in 1986. She was television critic for The Spectator magazine until 1990.
She has also edited collections of poetry for young readers and has been talked about as a potential candidate for Poet Laureate on many occasions.
Published by Faber and Faber in March 1986, Cope’s introductory collection of poems, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis was published by Faber and Faber in 1986 and became an astonishing bestseller. Her follow up volume, Serious Concerns printed in 1992, gave her a kind of audience rarely achieved by British poets in their lifetime.
Interviewer: Who are the poets you really admire and respect?
Wendy Cope: The trouble with being asked which living poets I admire is that I know them all - but Larkin certainly. Poetry Review described me as 'sticking with ‘Larkinian common sense' in its last issue. I'm not sure if Poetry Review thought that was a good thing, but I thought that's OK with me. 'Larkinian common sense' is something I'll own up to.
I don't know which poets have influenced me, because I think that's really more for others to judge. I've been very keen on George Herbert these last few years. I'm keen on John Clare as well. That sort of simplicity. Emily Dickinson is important. I've just done an anthology called Heaven on Earth: 101 Happy Poems.
(McCrum, Robert,Interview With Wendy Cope, The Observer, June 3, 2001.)
Cope's use of postmodernist pastiche
in Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis
established her standing as a parodist of canonical poetic chic madly indebted to the poets of The Movement
. Her penchant for characterizations of poetical ‘forefathers' reveals a desire to gain a place in the patriarchal literary establishment.
The first encounter with Wendy Cope was a poem titled Waste Land Limericks which inspired the request for the short book of poetry. I’ve read through it twice, it took a little over a half hour with many laugh out loud funny moments. Kingsley Amis, for those who may not know, is one of Britain's best-known and most popular novelists. The poems are brief and easy to read and the book is separated into three sections. Her sentiment, outlook, and moods ranging from laughter, contemplation, melancholy and anger; stand out as familiar and readily identifiable.
Part one is a compilation of poems written in different stages of a relationship that come into flower then begins to fade. Other poems mimic the style of well known poets, while Cope addresses playful issues after a fashion of William Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot narrating the story of a nursery rhymes in her telling manner of an elementary school teacher with a rather unsettling feeling of déjà vu. Unable to put the book down, and as soon as I did; picked it up again and bored family, friends, and partners by insisting on reading them a few favorites. For a sneak peek and if you don’t mind spoilers you may want to read The Wasteland Limericks.
Part two is all about the renowned Strugnell collection. Here Ms Cope creates a male persona as poet and makes it sardonically clear that he looks down upon male poets in general. This impressionable South London poet Jason Strugnell misfortune has been to fall under the all-too-obvious influence of one great poet after another. Shakespeare and Eliot are imitated by this upstart ingénue in a seriously pretentious attempt of high contrast to the author’s Part One parodies. Strugnell obviously believes himself to be a genius, while impressing no one with his attempts to write a Japanese haiku. Poor Strugnell, the syllables number seventeen, suitably arranged in a 5-7-5 pattern; the seasonal allusions are all there in apple-pie-order why, there are even cherry blossoms and falling leaves and the winter moon... and yet there's –something-- about his haiku that doesn't quite work.
Part three is a brief poem and belies the title of the book. Wendy Cope is truly funny her collection had me giggling for days, possibly the takeoff about patrolling the subconscious of Ted Hughes is a favorite. This is not “light verse” but more of a collection of literary jokes; a burlesque in the style of some of the most notable twentieth-century poets. Asked about her work, Cope asserted, “ I believe that a humorous poem can also be 'serious'; deeply felt and saying something that matters."
Slick humor and casual caricature, Wendy Cope has written a beautiful book -- witty, gentle, and cynical, she turns “two hundred-odd years of pontificating males” on their heads and leaves them hanging. She's simply too clever and I love it. Just read it. Laugh out loud.
The Wondering Minstrels:
Interview with Wendy Cope:
IPL Online Literary Criticism Collection:
www.ipl.org.ar/cgi-bin/ref/litcrit/ litcrit.out.pl?ti=mak-337 -
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis
was launched on January 15th 2003 and retired on September 1, 2006
.(See the daylog for an explanation.) It made its way around the world from Canada, across Asia, took a passage through Europe and began a quest from the eastern US. Unfortunately it never made its way beyond this point. As of the visit with toalight
the total milage was 27,831 miles. Many thanks to atlas
for his years of dedication of tracking MCFKA. I hope one day to post a Grand Total.
The following lists are the names and dates of the folks who hosted the book as well as those who never received it. Many thanks for those who participated in fact as well as in spirit. It is further proof that E2 is a community.
Here is where MCFKA has been so far:
Arrived January 21, 2003 - Departed February 3, 2003
Cosmyre - Regina, Sk
Arrived February 7, 2003 - Departed February 12, 2003
momo Ontario, Canada
Arrived- February 21, 2003 -Departed- March 15, 2003
Squalor Anhui province, China
Arrived- March 26, 2002 - Departed -April 6, 2003.
Dystopian Autocrat Suncheon, South Korea.
Arrived April 14,2003 - Departed April 28, 2003.
liontamer - Ariake, Nagasaki, Japan
Arrived May 5,2003 - Departed May 14, 2003.
HamsterMan- Winchester, Hampshire, England
Arrived May 22,2003 - Departed May 29, 2003.
Hexter- Winchester/London, England
Arrived May 29, 2003- Departed May 31, 2003.
wrinkly- London, England.
Arrived June 3, 2003- Departed June 6, 2003.
trembling- London, England.
Arrived June 8, 2003- Departed July 23, 2003.
elem_125- Bristol, UK .
Arrived circa August 30 - Departed September 2, 2003.
The Debutante - Bristol, UK .
Arrived September 9, 2003- Departed September 13, 2003, 2003.
lemur - Bristol, UK
Arrived September 13, 2003- Departed October 3,2003
Arrived October 3, 2003- Departed October 3, 2003-
slyph - Durham, United Kingdom.
Arrived November 2, 2003- Departed January 19, 2004
diotina and Oolong- Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
Arrived March 3, 2004- Departed March 29,2004.
Lometa - Tucson, AZ
Arrived May 10, 2004- Departed May 24, 2004.
Albert Herring - Nottingham, UK
Arrived June 1, 2004- Departed October 24, 2004.
wertperch - Nottingham, UK
Arrived July 8th, 2004.
darl - Bowden, UK
Arrived October 25 - Departed October 26, 2004.
blondino - Amsterdam, Noord-Holland Netherlands
Arrived November 2, 2004 - Departed November 20,2005.
sloebertje - Delft, Netherlands
Arrived November 25, 2004 - Departed December 9, 2004.
toalight - Oslo, Norway
Arrived December 11, 2004 - Departed January 15, 2005.
Linca- Paris, France
Arrived January 19, 2005 - Departed February 24, 2005.
siren - The Netherlands.
Arrived March 04, 2005 - Departed July 8, 2005.
Siobhan - Bern, Switzerland
Arrived July 18, 2005 - Departed August 1, 2005.
joes3029 - Hilton, South Africa.
Arrived August 10, 2005 - circa September 15
Demeter - Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Arrived September 23,2005 - Departed October 25,2005
momomom - Laurel, MD, United States
Arrived October 30, 2005 - Departed December 29,2005.
Scribe - Funkstown, MD
Arrived January 13,2006 - Departed Janaury 24, 2006.
Serjeant's Muse - Hoboken, NJ
Arrived January 29, 2006 - Departed February 6, 2006 .
yclept - Flemington, NJ
Arrived - Departed March 21, 2006.
Chiisuta- Brighton, MA
Arrived circa April 1, 2006 - Departed circa April 21,2006 .
RangyJoeyHondo - Lambertville NJ
Arrived April 26, 2006 - Departed May 12, 2006. .
Sondheim –Brooklyn, NY
Arrived unknown - Departed unknown.
Lometa - Tucson, AZ
Arrived July 10, 2009 - Departed July 30, 2009
GrouchyOldMan - Cape Cod, MA
Arrived 1 August, 2009 - Departed Friday 28 August, 2009
Oni no Ng - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Arrived Tuesday 1 September, 2009 - Departed...
Those who signed up, yet never received Kingsley Amis
Laura Elizabeth- Bridgeport, CT
Chras4 - East Granby, CT
magicmanzach - Longmeadow, MA.
equinoctial- Somerville, MA
3Suns- Newton, MA
apraetor - Worcester, MA
The Custodian - Boston, MA willing to shoulder shipping to 'tee off'
the book to a faraway land!
thyme - Vancouver, Washington
Joyquality - Portland, OR
TanisNikana - Dundee, OR
E2reneta - Oakland, CA
bindlenix - Berkeley, California
riverrun - Pasadena, CA
trainman - North Hollywood, CA
atlas - Santa Barbara, CA
cami - Santa Barbara, CA
izubachi - Madison, WI
LaggedyAnne - Saint Louis, Missouri
Oni no Ng - Swartz Creek, Michigan
borgo- Columbus, Ohio
Transitional Man - Columbus, Ohio
novasoy - Louisville, KY.
sauth- New Orleans, LA
Mitzi - Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
(I will send it on its way with COOKIES.)
dutchess - Charlottesville, VA.
Maylith- Manassas, VA.
JediBix783 - Washington DC
La petite mort - Melbourne, Victoria
The Cigarrte Smoking Sock - Melbourne , Victoria
Orpheum - Canberra
Taliesin's Muse- Sydney, New South Wales
Last updated 08/31/2006
For Christine Mitbo in memory of Monkey Pee.
Round 2 - August 2009 and onwards
3Suns - Baltimore, Maryland
DTal - UK
Taliesin's Muse - Canberra, ACT
lizardinlaw - California
riverrun - California
Oni no Ng - Ann Arbor, Michigan