Monday, August 08, 2005

Awful poetry

Someone commented on my posting about why I thought a poetry writing exercise might make people cringe, "...there is so much really *awful* poetry that they're concerned about adding to the morass."

There is a lot of awful poetry about. It's true. And I'd say an awful lot of it is published by respectable publishing houses!

Ok, awful may be a bit strong, but let's face it, poetry has become distinctly unpopular through the simple strategy of being thoroughly unappealing. Poets have been known to moan that people don't buy poetry. No, they don't, for the simple reason that they don't like it. There are some wonderful exceptions, poems like Jenny Joseph's 'Warning', that have caught the popular imagination, but they're few and far between. Most people would sooner read an EU official publication than contemporary poetry.

If you are at all interested in this subject you might enjoy this much longer and more knowledgable rant by Neil Astley. I'd highly recommend his anthologies Staying Alive and *Being Alive as examples of poetry that isn't awful. (I'm hoping the next will be an anthology of elderly curmudgeon poets called Still Alive or possibly Alive and Kicking.)

* "Hopefully, books like this will put poetry back into the mainstream" - Van Morrison Now there's a recommendation!

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