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Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

lord byronI’ve been reading a lot of poetry recently, all of it self published, through the WordPress blog, and I’m enjoying it.

We have plenty of dead poets, their words filling the dusty tomes of the past.Theirs are the voices we know best, theirs are the poems we learned by heart at school, and we all have our favourites. Some of those dead poets attained a degree of fame and celebrity in their lifetime, others despaired, self published their works then died in poverty, only to become revered by later generations. Sadly though most of those self-published were never heard of again, and their works are lost.

Even sadder, things have gone from bad to worse for poets and poetry. There are no lucrative publishing contracts any more, no more celebrity poets of the stature of the great Romantics, and the days of publishing by subscription are also the quaint relic of a bygone era, replaced by a rancid mire of disreputable vanity publishers and other dubious “author services”. So the smart poets are moving online. They’re setting up blogs. They have  dayjobs, and post their poems for free, by night.

While to the uninitiated, this might seem futile, little better than keeping your poems in a drawer, these poets have readers, they have followers. Their comment boxes are full. They have fans! But these are not household names, not poet laureates, nor holders of court in literary circles. They’re simply people in touch with themselves and their muse. They write well, and often, and their persistence has led to a quiet popularity among their peers, to say nothing of a dedicated online readership. Their poems are not to be found in glossy hardback in select bookshops – no – it’s much better than that; their poems are on the phone in your pocket.

So, you “follow” a poet you like and their poem pops up in your reader. You read it, and the poetry then becomes a part of your day. I have lots of books of dead poetry, but I rarely read them now, because time is pressing, and that’s a pity because it’s the daily exposure to poetry that’s the magical, all-important thing. It lifts you to another plane, snicks your head into a different gear, a different way of thinking and seeing.

Poetry is not meant to be an inaccessible literary form, one to be picked apart by highly educated critics in tweed jackets and bow ties. It’s meant to be a voice that everyone can listen to, a voice that everyone can hear. If a particular poet doesn’t speak to you, don’t think that it’s your fault for being slow or insensitive or lacking in poetical finesse. You can always find another poet who will touch you. The most effective poets have a way of cutting through the surface of life and exposing a jewel of emotion, a thing that can alter mood, and coax our brainwaves onto that more subtle frequency, put us in touch with a higher innate sense. But for all of that, poetry is about daily life, about the experience of our lives, and our reflections upon it.

The myth of poetry is that it is elitist, that only those who have done it at college can really understand it, that only those few poets who have escaped a merciless drubbing at the hands of pinch faced critics have a voice worth listening to. I failed English literature at O-Level, forty years ago, then went on to a career in a technical discipline void of anything even remotely artistic, but my ignorance of literature does not prevent me from enjoying, or connecting with books, or poetry, or indeed any other art form. Nor should it prevent you.

Art keeps the balance in our lives, and a balanced life knows no despair.

If you have a drawer full of poems, would like others to read them, but can’t find a publisher, consider blogging them. It’s an unlikely medium, I know, but one that’s catching on. Whatever you do, don’t pay someone else to publish them for you, or you’ll end up seriously out of pocket and with nothing to show for it but a crate of hardbound copies cluttering up your garage.

People read blogs, and they’ll read yours. And if you’re just not into writing poetry, consider following a poet’s blog instead. You’re sure to find one you like – just search WordPress Poems. Their voices can be a real balm for the soul as you set out into the grey fog of your morning commute. So find yourself a poet and let them in, or better still, find the poet inside yourself.
A poem a day,
Keeps the greyness at bay.
You too are a poet,
Though you might not know it.
So please don’t be shy.
Give blogging a try.
It’s really good fun
And the readers will come.
With apologies to Mr. D. Oggerel

 

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