RITA & RINGO
for Rita Tushingham and Ringo Starr
It's obviously dangerous in poetry, if you want your poems to last,
To risk making reference after reference
That just might not make much sense
To readers, just a few years later! After all, isn't it difficult enough for a poet to write poems
which have a chance to last for a long time, anyhow
Without stacking the deck against himself or herself that way, in the here & now?
Such risky--since alas potentially senseless--references, it's clear,
Would include allusions to various half-forgotten, bygone times, &
relatively unknown places
& Similarly interesting things, unfamiliar to even most informed people today;
--On the other hand, there are also references not too far-flung but
perhaps too familiar to consider
Such as much contemporary slang & other such probably temporary,
potentially obscure nomenclatures,
Which might seem strange as Sanskrit to readers, by even the very near future
--& Perhaps chief among the latter, are most references to
people such as pop-stars, popular at any given moment.
Let 's make a little leap then, into just the recent historical past
& Look at the problems, re making references to a couple of individuals I can think of
Which--if we'd been writing poetry involving them just a few decades ago--we'd now face:
For example, let's pretend that we're writing in the year l963 A.D;
& that somehow you or I have suddenly perceived something
of significance--or, at least, that we think is significant--about two top pop-stars
& That we'd like very urgently to "Communicate To Eternity"...
--Say, for example, we suddenly perceived back there in '63 that:
Rita Tushingham, the charmingly winsome actress starring in the
then-brand-new British film "A Taste of Honey" (then just
making her debut as rising star, thanks to her stirring portrayal
of a runaway girl befriended by a sensitive homosexual)
& Ringo Starr, the charmingly winsome, brand new drummer for the
British Rock-&-Roll group "The Beatles" (then just making his
debut as rising star, too, thanks to both his stirring drumming
in tunes like the Beatles' first 45 RPM "single" "Love Me Do,"
& also his somewhat startling hairdo)--
Both of whom, that year at least, displayed rather whimsically off-beat,
& (I for one think) curiously endearing, quasi-"Unisex" faces--
Share a certain, rather striking, physical resemblance!
& Let's pretend, too, that the reason why we're absolutely convinced
that the resemblance of those two talented stars is significant,
Is because we've come to believe that the quasi-"Unisex" look we think they share
Foretells nothing less than the much-forecasted & long overdue, final (truly final)
DECLINE & FALL OF THE ENTIRE BRITISH COLONIAL EMPIRE!
--What with the traditional emphasis of that formerly vast global
enterprise on distinctly masculine values & all
When, for prior century after century, it dominated practically the whole wide world
& Was most conventionally "Successful."
Let us suppose then that, following our sudden realizations &
quasi-epiphanies, madly inspired
With our eyes rolling around wildly, our tongue hanging out & our hair
standing up on end despite the breeze,
One of us rushes to our clattery, old-fashioned, pre-computer-era typewriter,
To make at least a temporary little household racket, by writing a poem about all that;
Since, happily & deservingly, charmingly winsome Ringo is
still quite well-known both as singer & actor,
But the equally charmingly winsome Rita has already, alas & double alas, even
as I write this--despite other, later & stellar, stirring performances in such
major films as Doctor Zhivago (l965)--been mostly & unjustly forgotten today
Instead of having contributed an interesting insight on 20th century
World History back in '63, as we expected,
Wouldn't we then--if we'd referred only casually & without much further explanation
to her (but not to him) in our creation--
Have been practically dooming our poem to oblivion?
Possibly! But since the majority of any poet's works will of course,
alas (& double-alas!), probably be totally forgotten anyway,
Among others which he or she has higher hopes for (those poems, for
example, intended to last at least as long as King Tut's tomb!)
Let this poem too, praising the continuing stardom of Ringo Starr but
deploring among other things the fall from popular favor of that
fine actress, Rita Tushingham
Risk being mistaken by some, for a "throwaway poem"--
Such as a writer will sometimes whimsically produce, designed
for the light amusement of himself or herself & perhaps a few old friends...
--&, Of course, hopefully lots of others!
Ringo is partly about male-female
resemblances of two l960's British pop-stars, & partly about how poetry
walks a line
between short-term & long-term concerns. That being one of many reasons why it's difficult to write poems which will endure.
This little contribution to literature on 20th century US & British pop culture--which is also an essay in verse on poetic reference & allusion & also something of a post-modern Ars Poetica--first appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review in l996,
© l996 Michael Benedikt. Webversion, © 2000 by Michael Benedikt
More Recent, re Rita & re Ringo
After prolonged absence from Silver Screen, Rita Tushingham returned
to critical acclaim in 'Under The Skin' (l997).
Films since then: Swing (1999), Out Of Depth (2000), & The Stretford Wives (2002).
For a complete Tushingham filmography, try imdb.com at: http://imdb.com/name/nm0878240
Ringo Starr's latest CDs are the Xmas Album, I Wanna Be Santa Claus ('99), Anthology/10 Year Anniversary ('01),
& Ringorama ('02). For a Ringo Starr filmography, try imdb.com at: http://imdb.com/name/nm0823592
A little-known, underappreciated but very amusing l960's film starring Ringo Starr (a.k.a. Richard Starkey):
The Magic Christian (l969). Iconoclastic Scenario based on novel by Terry Southern. Available on Video One Canada Videotape.
'Right In The Middle Of Everything'
In Middle Of Everything
Folonari Red Wine
Is A Toy
Panty-Lines That Show
Of Granny Smith's Green Apples Of Sexual Style Einstein 'Your Life Is Your Own Life...' Of 'Turning Away'...
Home Page of 'The Thesaurus & Other New Verse' & Other Poems From OF: