Five Dials ~ Pedagogic Poems for Parents

Categorised as ART., LITERATURE.

Five Dials is a free PDF literary magazine and a baby brother to a publisher called Hamish Hamilton (formerly an independent, now an imprint of the mighty behemoth known as Penguin Books). Hamish Hamilton have published everyone from Albert Camus to Joe Dunthorne (he wrote Submarine which you probably saw filmed by Richard Ayoade). Five Dials have published Leonard Cohen, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Alain de Botton, Zadie Smith and loads more, and held events in all sorts of crazy places, from a drizzly park in New York City to a car fair off Brick Lane. Hamish Hamilton suggest “Five Dials is best downloaded, printed out and enjoyed (we hope) away from the computer.”

Their most recent endeavor tackles that most trite off all didactic vernaculars… parenting tips. Amazed that the most inane manuals available to all budding mums & dads are the ones selling trillions, and that an especially drab piece of pedagogy printed in the fifties — Points for Parents — has recently been re-published and edited by the author’s daughter, Five Dials took it upon itself to give weathered family advice one last bid at rejuvenation: to re-imagine the pages of this dire book with only poetry. Subsequently eight poets were given a chapter title each and asked to write a poem. The results have been weird, unnerving and often hilarious, and hope to prove that poetry is the only true remedy when it comes to domestic dilemma.

Here is an exclusive glimpse at one of the poems adorning the pages:

In Praise of Children

 Poem Immediately upon Waking

I had a dream my two girls, grown up,
with their intelligent eyes and nuanced, quizzical faces,
glanced over to me at Christmas, or something very like Christmas,
and those faces said, ‘Dad, we’re sorry it didn’t work out with mum,
but we’ve forgiven her.’ And I beckoned them come hither,
and fond of me as they are, with that wry, faux reluctance
best becoming intelligent women, they came hither,
and my look said, ‘So you should forgive her, girls,
she’s a marvellous woman and if we’re being honest
I should never have let her get on my bus in the first place,
knowing what I know about Cockburns before me,
about long nights sitting up with dead priests
and everyone getting under the table when the phone rang;
I should have wound down my SORRY NOT IN SERVICE sign,
switched off my interior lights and driven straight back to the depo,
but you know, girls, your mother was only cold like anyone
and probably not any less selfish and I was selfish too
and I wanted to love and fuck your mother always;
so I took her little ticket off her, and she took my little ticket off me,
which was furry from use, and off we went. And we laughed and cried
and mostly cried aboard my bus as it rattled along,
just holding together on the faint promise of some destination
we hoped we’d reach, and upon reaching concede,
with a wry faux reluctance best becoming intelligent women,
was certainly there all along. And whether it was or not,
look at you two, you’re perfectly wonderful
and you’ve got the knack of living – that’s all your mother –
I know, she hates that sort of talk too, but it’s Christmas, girls,
or something very like Christmas, and I can be as camp and weary
as I please, and can’t a man draw the loveliness of women
around himself like sand if he wants to?’ At which point
their two husbands, who I knew in the dream were fond of each other,
came in, each enjoying the other’s company,
but, it being late and they being men wanting only really
to draw the loveliness of women around themselves like sand,
and my girls kissed my cheeks, first the eldest, then the youngest,
and smiled at me, and I smiled too and my smile said,
‘Go to them, girls, it is to them you should go.’

The issue will launch online, and in paper form on Thursday 24th November at Rough Trade East, with live readings and free paper & staples for the folding of your own zine-copy. And if you don’t want to act like you’re into poetry, you can pretend you’re a band fan boi pressing your recently-discovered list of Fugzai b-sides into a cassette playlist. What’s more, you can choose a revamped cover for your book by some pretty shit-hot illustrators in a kind of popularity-contest of drawing.

The Pedagogic Poets are: Olly Todd, James Brookes, Nathan Hamilton, Heather Phillipson, Tim Cockburn, Oli Hazzard, Emily Berry & Luke Kennard. Poet bios here:

The original front cover of Points for Parents (found here) will be redesigned by: Tom Rees, Hannah Bagshaw, Joe Prendergast, Sophia Augusta, Simon Butler and Mint Magazine’s very own Kyle Platts (see top).

Five Dials, Pedagogic Poems for Parents will launch at Rough Trade East on the 24th November.


Sam Buchan-Watts

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