DUNCAN Ferguson’s “Time to throw a new light on poetry” (Agenda, The Herald, March 18) hit the spot with its evaluation of poetry’s standing today.

Blame people like me. As a teacher of English I have caused great suffering in youngsters. It serves me right that after giving Gestapo grillings about majestic usage of enjambment, oxymoron, metonymy, that I have received essays analysing “enjamabam”, “oxycodone” and “monotony”.

Ever listened to teenagers reading poetry aloud? It’s an assault on the ears. In fact, word on the street is that major supermarkets, in a bid to combat panic buying, are ditching piped music for piped poetry read by kids. Ralph Waldo Emerson on a loop would certainly put most folk off dried pasta and toilet roll (financial tip: invest in earmuffs now!).

It is indeed time to throw light on this much-maligned art form. To take back control. From the comfort of your self-isolation pod use your device of choice to search up great poems past and present. Read them aloud to your fellow survivalists (please practise – remember the perils of piped poetry?).

Country music fans know the best songs tell a story. Nothing is better than a narrative poem well read. More fulfilling than a box-set binge anyway. Could anything be more apt in these coronadays than a rhythmic reading of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner and his perilous position, “Day after day, day after day/ We stuck, nor breath nor motion/ As idle as a painted ship/ Upon a painted ocean”? How about using up your hours in solitary by dramatizing such classics? A word of warning though – don’t ask your other half to play death. I made that mistake and she almost made it happen.

Short funny poems are superb for family morale. Andrew Collett’s “Dad’s Exploding Knickers” and his exhortation to “Always Eat Your Bogies” will surely bring a laugh of disgust to the young (and not so young).

Let’s not stop at reading poetry. Embrace the challenge of writing it whilst in quarantine. You don’t have to be an angst-ridden teenager stuck in a garret to be creative. Remember the maxim “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? Use other poems as a springboard. Have fun translating Collett’s classic into Scots. Is anything grosser than “Ayways scoff yer snotters”?

If something higher is your bag, borrow a famous poem. Make it your own. Take, say, a section of Fergusson’s “The Daft-Days”. Use the rhymes “sings, rings, brings, cave, wings, grave” then fill in the blanks to make a new poem.

With lockdown looking likely it needn’t be doomsday. You might emerge from confinement in a unique position: in the future when your grandchild asks, “What did you do in the coronavirus grandpa/ma?” Tuck them up in bed and read from your very own Golden Treasury of Verse. Just don’t let others hear you urging them to “ayways scoff yer snotters” though.

Gordon Fisher, Stewarton.

All that jazz

FULL marks to you for running a story about jazz on Page 3 ("Top artists make Jazz FM Awards shortlist", The Herald, March 19). However, it's a pity having name-checked a lot of the well-known contenders for the awards there was no mention of Georgia Cecile, a fabulous emerging Scottish talent and one of the three nominations for Vocalist of the Year in the awards. There is a lot of great, world-class jazz in Scotland right now, with Georgia right in the front line. Fingers crossed she can wow the judges.

Dick Playfair, Edinburgh EH10.

All that fuss

THERE were a few hostages to fortune in Mark Smith's article on Morrissey today ("Refusing to sell Morrissey’s album is not cool at all", The Herald, March 20). Please let me take advantage of a couple of them.

First: should a hungry person really eschew good grub for a CD? Second: although wiping your backside with a Morrissey CD would be a very appropriate comment on the arch self-absorbed miserablist's music, it would be rather an ineffective method, and very uncomfortable.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

All that Latin

JOHN McKie (“‘Wee Stinker’ crossword maestro McKie dies at 80”, The Herald, March 17, and Letters, March 18 & 19) was able to guide pupils so perceptively and kindly that I often recall one apt caution (in Latin) with a smile, 50 years later.

I thank him for that, and for the joy of Latin and Greek.

Lawrence Walker, Bearsden.

All that noise

ALLAN C Steele's letter about about NHS hearing aids (March 20) reminds me of the elderly lady using her first such aid. "You'll never hear a bad word about the NHS now," said her companion.

I trust that a little levity is permissible in these dark times.

David Miller, Milngavie.