CSULA Department of English | Events

Wendy Cope will be the guest reader at the 2010 Jean Burden Poetry Reading. The event will take place on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 6:30pm in the Golden Eagle Ballroom. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

When Wendy Cope's debut collection of poems, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, appeared in 1986, it was a publishing sensation, winning widespread critical praise and eventually selling 200,000 copies. Her subsequent books have received a similarly warm reception.

Photo of  Wendy Cope poster

She is generally acknowledged to be one of the very best and cleverest poets of our time and the funniest, most spot-on parodist in English since Max Beerbohm.

The Jean Burden Poetry Readings are sponsored by CSULA’s Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Department of English. For additional information, please contact the Department of English (323) 343-4140.


"Wendy Cope is without doubt the wittiest of contemporary English poets, and says a lot of extremely serious things."
Dr. Rowan Williams,
Archbishop of Canterbury

"She should be given a medal for the number of reluctant readers of poetry, of all ages, she's laughingly and tunefully returned to the fold."

"A jet-age Tennyson."
London Review of Books






Bloody men are like bloody buses—
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.

You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You're trying to read the destinations,
You haven't much time to decide.

If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you'll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours, the days.



My heart has made its mind up
And I'm afraid it's you.
Whatever you've got lined up,
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can't be signed up
This year, next year will do.
My heart has made its mind up
And I'm afraid it's you.


Engineers’ Corner

“Why isn’t there an Engineers’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we’ve always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint … How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?”

Advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council

We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints—
That’s why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It’s always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.

Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering—
You’re sure to need another job as well;
You’ll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.

While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You’ll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There’s far too much encouragement for poets—
That’s why this country’s going down the drain.


By the Round Pond

You watch yourself. You watch the watcher too—
A ghostly figure on the garden wall.
And one of you is her, and one is you,
If either one of you exists at all.

How strange to be the one behind a face,
To have a name and know that it is yours,
To be in this particular green place,
To see a snail advance, to see it pause.

You sit quite still and wonder when you’ll go.
It could be now. Or now. Or now. You stay.
Who’s making up the plot? You’ll never know.
Minute after minute swims away.


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