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Jane’s story: Ex Art Student by Roger McGough Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Posted by carryapoem in Stories.

The poem I carry with me is short and slight, and for me it’s a warning: ‘Ex Art Student’ by Roger McGough. I first read it in my teens, when I was applying to art college. I copied I out and stuck it on my wall, telling myself I’d never end up like the poem’s subject, ‘neat haired and low heeled’ with her ‘dull job in the world of low fashion’ and her dreams portfolioed in the attic. Back then, I had no idea how easy it can become to neglect what’s important to you – to allow your dreams to be pushed aside by the everydayness of life.

A few years later, and it seemed that I was that ex art student. The poem became something uncomfortable, something prickly– but it stuck with me, because that discomfort was important.

This poem hasn’t been displayed on my wall for almost two decades. But I know it by heart – it’s very short – and it reminds me to hang onto what matters. For me, it’s a cautionary tale.

It turns out that ‘Ex Art Student’ is also a song. You can see it on YouTube with Jimi Hendrix, no less, on lead guitar.


1. Steven - Saturday, 13 February 2010

I am an ex art student. I picked up a copy of the carryapoem book at the library, and it fell open at this page.

It shook me more than I can say. I realise I’ve turned into this person, and I need to do something now before it’s too late.

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