Of all my poems, this has been by far the most successful and the most controversial. Over the past twenty years, translations of this poem have been made into a number of different languages by a number of different translators. Translations appear to range from good to dreadful. French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese are some of the mainstream languages, Hungarian and Klingon two less expected languages for translations of an unknown poet.
What is the poem about? At the time of writing, I was studying Mathematics at Oxford University, but drowning in concepts I did not fully understand. At the same time, I was training for a student support organisation called Nightline, which serves the same sort of purpose as Samaritans, but specifically towards students, who may or may not have problems different to those of the rest of society.
One of the role-plays related to a girl name Joy, who was intending to take her own life. She was very calm and rational, noted that nobody actually cared at all for her, that she did not care about or trust anybody else at that time and that the end of her life would not make any difference to anybody.
In Joy, an ironic name if ever there was one, I could see many parallels to and many differences from my own life at that time, February 1980. Thoughts of Joy, who was in a sense a fictional character and in a sense as real as anybody else continued for a short time, and then I wrote the poem in just a few minutes. Is it autobiographical? In some sense it may describe how I was at that time, but I am far away from those feelings now.
I discovered that another suicide drama was being played out elsewhere in the country. Ian Curtis, the artistic force behind Joy Division had just taken his own life, a fact I only became aware of as a simultaneous event twenty years later. So what, if anything, is the connection between my poem Joy and Ian Curtis's poem Love will tear us apart, written in similar circumstances at similar times?
Copyright exists in all the poems I wrote, but I am very relaxed about it on all the poems except Joy. Email me for permission to use any of the other poems on your site or in your work. You are welcome, but if you ask for permission to use Joy, I will decline. I have already had it removed it from several websites and will continue to do so.