Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009





Being the Bad Guy



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Poems by John Whitworth


John Whitworth was born in 1945 and lives in Canterbury with his wife and two daughters. He has been a reviewer of poetry for Poetry Review and a general reviewer for The Spectator, and his poems have appeared in most of the leading poetry journals and magazines as well as in The Times and the Arts pages of The Independent. They have also won prizes in competitions.

Being the Bad Guy is John Whitworth’s ninth individual collection and his fifth from Peterloo. Emphatically it is not a book of poems for children, but Peterloo will make an exception and sell it to children of all ages from 9 to 99, provided they have a proven history of naughtiness and a larger vocabulary than Shakespeare. John Whitworth’s brio and outrageously brilliant rhyming in this new collection are up there with Ogden Nash and the Byron of Don Juan. Enjoy, as those we are divided from by a common language tend to say.

From reviews of earlier collections:

‘John Whitworth’s poems are as smart and full of fun as a pair of glazed tap shoes. He is a wise , rueful virtuoso.’ Les Murray

‘. . . a sort of male Wendy Cope . . . But he is altogether more robust and contemptuous.’
Dick Davis, The Listener

‘witty, urbane, entertaining and infallibly precise verse.’
Peter Reading, Sunday Times Books

’doubles you up with helpless laughter.’ John Lucas, New Statesman

‘From The Sonnet History of Modern Poetry is a laugh from within. It’s a poetry book that’s needed to keep poets sane, to keep them out of pubs, a book to keep some poets from going to church and to prevent others from starting up a new religion. It’s a book that sends the nine muses walking down the catwalk of poetry fashion, showing off their wares. Whitworth speaks with the authority of a satirist . . . The line drawings by Gerald Mangan have the same provocative quality as the sonnets and go to make a duet in satire . . . All the drawings are quick-witted and aphoristic statements . . . From The Sonnet History of Modern Poetry is an essential handbook for all serious poets.’
Noel Manahan, Honest Ulsterman



I’m wicked, such a wicked person,
In all the world there’s not a worse ‘un.
My wickedness is so primeval
I swear I’m absolutely evil
And so unutterably horrid
Two horns have sprouted from my forehead.
I clop around on devil feet.
With devil forks I spear my meat,
Then tear it in my devil jaws.
My nails are black and curved like claws.
My teeth are jaggy like a shark.
I jump on people in the dark.
I roll my devil eyes about,
And, with my wicked devil shout,
Yell dreadful, doomy, devil things.
I’ve got these pterodactyl wings,
And poisonous snakes instead of hair
(You might not see them, but they’re there),
I’m wicked and I just don’t care.


Price 7.95 per copy
Cover illustration: Fergus Pickering
Publication: OCTOBER 2007 (88 pages laminated paperback).