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Clive James: ‘Fixing my maple tree will cost a few bob. I’d write a poem, but it won’t make any money’


Even the best poets would be in career trouble without the occasional grant or award

My maple tree, about which I wrote a poem saying it would outlive me, is suddenly half dead and soon might be fully so. Yesterday, looking like a demoralised triffid, it was taken away in a van to a clinic for sick maple trees. Its chances are not great. Meanwhile, squadrons of trolls are preparing their epigrams about my presumptuous misreading of the future. Embarrassing? Totally.

But having guessed wrong about my immediate death, I must be careful about forecasting the same fate for the tree. Perhaps it can be fixed. The treatment, however, will cost a few bob. I have considered writing another poem on the subject, but poems don’t make much money. This fact is well known in my native Australia, where the Council for the Arts is a haven for progressive intellectuals self-tasked with the mission to redistribute the money of taxpayers, who might waste it, among creative “communities”, which are sure to. Careful provision is made for the community of poets.

Related: Clive James: ‘I can’t mock Donatella Versace, because I am no stranger to the plastic surgeon myself’

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