You wouldn't know that from his debut collection though, based on his experience as an officer in the trenches of the First World War. The left-wing intelligensia has buried this book in the mud of Passchendaele, its tone not fitting their myth-making dogma. Titled My Great War, it thrills to how wonderful the break of day was in the trenches, for example in Let's Play a Game of Footy. Elsewhere it marvels
Post-war he became the father of the most important modernist movement,Opaquism, whose general belief was that where something was easy, clear and obvious it was the duty of the poet to complicate it with a lot of pointless and confusing metaphor. Twynam himself later said this was an over-simplification of what the movement meant, like a one-tune busker playing for tips, before farting outside the local Arndale. He later expounded on this in Hoof-Hearted with the inimitable line;
There followed a dark, dark, decade, now known as his White Period where he became obsessed with the purity of the page, to such an extent he was scared to type anything upon it. He turned instead to scandalous art events, and became the enfant terrible of the 60s Greenwich art and music scene. Greenwich, London. Candy Crush, his installation of a naked fat man sat in a bath of chocolate fudge brownie ice-cream can still be seen at the Tate Modern by anyone with an active imagination.
He bounced back as a huge influence on the alternative poetry scene that sprang up in the late '70s. People had tired of smug conservative poets on prime-time Saturday TV, with their adherence to strict metre, jazz and masturbation. As Twynam put it in the first edition of his semenal, proto-punk, poet-zine Enough Larkin About,
As for his politics, they are little known, It is known he stood up against state obsession wherever he found it, witness his mid-seventies call to arms The Denunciation of Rubik's Cuba. Plus he was a lifelong anti-monarchist, even in his short stint as poet laureate, where he greeted a new birth with his infamous Kill William, later adapted as a ninja comedy-caper by Quentin Tarantino.
He and music were syncopated like lissome lovers. He was responsible for the Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head scene in Butch Cassidy when he suggested to the director, what this film really needs is a bicycle. And who knows where TS Eliot would be now if he hadn't taken this advice when staging his now classic musical, the only thing he's remembered for;
As for his love-life, there are many who swear that his menage a trois with Penelope Keith and Sue Mehenlick off Pan's People wasn't entirely in his imagination. We do know that he spends his dotage sharing his wife with an otherwise unwanted black headless shop mannequin.
It's so hard to choose a poem to do justice to his range. Anagram poems, shape poems, monosyllabic poems, his tin-ear series where every inch of poetry has been carefully stripped out. But it's a little known fact that he played drums on most of Ogden Nash's longer poems and helped him out with the trickier rhymes. He kept a few of the choicer cuts for himself so let's share this one which he dedicated to his wife, a strict omnivore.
Some Guardian readers are coming to tea
Famously tolerant of all they see,
Except wheat and dairy obviously