About Otwituaries

I started tweeting these poetic obituaries via Twitter on the death of Ernest Borgnine in July 2012. After a while a friend asked if I would gather them together, so I have created this blog as an archive. New Otwituaries will appear here as well as being broadcast via Twitter and Facebook.

All the Otwituaries are written very quickly on the day their subjects pass away, so are clearly lacking in polish or the insight that only comes in time, but they are all from the heart. They represent the people who have, in some way, touched my life - actors, musicians, sporting figures, TV personalities, writers, explorers and assorted others of note.

We live in an age where people are celebrated for the most modest of achievements - news and media ensure that seemingly everyone gets their five minutes of fame if they stick around long enough. It may therefore seem a little morbid or even self-serving on my part to write about the recently-deceased (few if any of whom I have actually met), but these people already enjoy some degree of immortality through their celebrity, and therefore don't need a poem from me. I hope you enjoy reading these short poetic sketches all the same, in the spirit they are intended.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Bob Willis - d. December 4th 2019

When looking back
they will not tell
of futile spells
on lifeless tracks
but eyes like steel,
the arm a blur,
the win secured,
the miracle, real.

Read about Bob Willis here

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Jonathan Miller - d. November 27th 2019

In opera, a man sings
when he dies, songs
of the lonely body, long 
Godless nights, songs sung
for those that do not flinch
at complicated things, songs
that live beyond the fringe. 

read about Jonathan Miller here

Clive James - d. November 24th 2019

I learned the value of everything
from you, most human of beings,
how to observe the crystal bucket,
not just watching, but seeing.

read about Clive James here

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Andrea Newman - d. November 9th 2019

Oh, the lessons I learned:
from you: the joy of lust,
the tragedy of guilt, the 
rightness in the wrong.
625 lines, all dripping
with forbidden fruit.

Read about Andrea Newman here

Raymond Poulidor - d. November 13th 2019

The air is thinning, crowds
parting. At last, your wheel
leads all, a breakaway none 
could ever catch, in a jersey
only you could ever wear.

read about Raymond Poulidor here

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Alison Prince - d. 12th October 2019

Fragments of light
Ring those
Town Hall

Stories that spell
How we're 
Changed by

Read about Alison Prince here

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Alexei Leonov - d. October 11th 2019

Step again
from the tin can
into the stillness
of low earth orbit.
This time, though,
the hatch clangs
behind you, and
even these words
are weightless.

Read about Alexei Leonov here

Monday, 14 October 2019

Stephen Moore - d. October 4th 2019

I think you ought to know
I’m very depressed. I mean,
the dullness of stars is all so
predictable, each death scene
a tedious inevitability. Life?
Don’t talk to me about life.

Read about Stephen Moore here

Monday, 7 October 2019

Ginger Baker - d. October 6th 2019

They set fire to your kit today,
skins peeling, burning birch.
You confronted the ashes, 
flailing, primal, murder 
in your eyes. Condition: blue, 
waiting for the bringdown.

Read about Ginger Baker here

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Peter Sissons - d. October 1st 2019

The air vibrates
in sympathy to the day,
to the receding storm of news.
The viewer waits
for you to pause, and say
Newsnight is starting on BBC2

Read about Peter Sissons here

Jessye Norman - d. September 30th 2019

Now we shall sing
your four last songs:
The Grand Mansion;
Ariadne Released;
The Untamed Falcon;
Faster. Higher. Stronger. 

Read about Jessye Norman here

Monday, 16 September 2019

Ric Ocasek - d. September 15th 2019

Oh, rock'n'roll,
you never paid attention
to my dreams,
but sometimes 
you broke down
and a voice
jumped out of the mix
to say Let's Go.

Read more about Ric Ocasek here

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Terrance Dicks - d. August 29th 2019

Into the box, you wrote -
not pine and brass
but blue and windowed,
wheezing, groaning,
forever materialising 
in the eyes of children
grown, if not grown up.

Read about Terrance Dicks here

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Peter Fonda - d. August 16th 2019

Come, angels, shine 
down the chrome forks
of your wing├ęd chariots.
Today we take the baddest 
trip, ride the two-lane 
blacktop side-by-side
with Captain America.

Sheila Steafel - d. August 23rd 2019

From the age of gold
comes a crowd of one,
each a study in scatty, 
nimble as a gang of fleas, 
stealing the scenes
before you even knew
they were gone.

Read about Sheila Steafel here

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Toni Morrison - d. August 5th 2019

Your beloved stories,
the known and unknown,
must be written again.
Rest in power, glory
in what you made your own:
the humanity of the pen.

Read about Toni Morrison here

Sunday, 4 August 2019

D. A. Pennebaker - d. August 1st 2019

Legends demand posterity,
a living camera to frame
genius beyond celebrity.
Broadway, Monterey, Eternity, 
finally, a direction home.

Read about D. A. Pennebaker here

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Barrington Pheloung - d. August 1st 2019

-- ..- ... .. -.-. 
.. ...  
- .... .  
..- -. -... .-. . .- -.- .- -... .-.. .  
-.-. --- -.. .  
--- ..-.  
- .... .  
--. --- -.. ...

Read about Barrington Pheloung here

...and if your Morse is rusty try here

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Rutger Hauer - d. July 19th 2019

It’s not an easy thing,
to meet your maker, 
but tell them this:
it is not the memories
of rain that remain. 
It is the tears.

Read about Rutger Hauer here

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Chris Kraft - d. July 22nd 2019

Your life was mission: 
moonrise to moonfall, 
a minute hand ticking
from shift to shift, 
the engineer's pulse,
the moments to orbit.
Now the capsule passes
far downrange, beyond 
the business of the skies.