The artist Walter Kershaw is perhaps best known for the famous Trafford Park Murals at White City, Manchester. This poem is in response to Anna Montgomery’s prompt for Meeting the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub on Thursday 21 February where we’re exploring the ancient and contemporary art of graffiti.
Latin texts of old Pompeii vie with Banksy of today,
Cool tattoos in 1970′s,
Patterned ends of terraced houses.
Walter Kershaw was proclaimed, ‘Britain’s first graffiti artist.’
A riot of colour, Graffiti! Graffiti!
His reward: butties
And mugs of tea.
A student of fine art at Durham,
With murals commissioned overseas,
Interviews with Russell Harty
And others on radio and TV,
His shocks of guerrilla technicolour, in Lancashire red-brick streets,
Meant he travelled at 5am,
When most of us lurk between sheets.
Off he’d tear on his motorbike,
To the neighbourhoods, to … grapheet.
They queued to ask, ‘Will you do my house next?’
While local councils sent reams of text,
‘Cease and desist.’
Nothing was done,
The man was known to everyone.
No charges pursued so none ensued,
All knew his fame, knew his game.
Now much graffiti’s washed away,
Only photographs remain.
Latin texts of old Pompeii
Vie with Banksy of today,
Yet not so long ago we saw
From Walter Kershaw.
Polly Robinson © 2013