Sorry haven't time to read the others that came in and
Rupert's crossed with mine. And I must sleep. But my last is now on a time
lag. Anyway, my last para Rupert of my last was just a way of
saying one can find ones own poetic voice no matter what your
background. I was giving you some of my limited creds as that's what
you seemed to be asking for. They get less as I get older.
However I fundamentally disagree with what you say here
(nicely but fundamentally nevertheless). What you are saying is
you read everything on the same level. No highs and lows. No wows and
toe-curdling groans. No personal psyche, no click, no elation
of strangeness, no boredom with the prosaic, no little frisson when a turn of a
line or phrase or collocation knocks your funny bone, no love no hate
no indifference? I wonder why you read at all. It's
like going to do the weekly shop but less interesting.
I just so much don't want that take on things! And
what's more I don't believe it. I just don't believe you can just pick up
any poem or recipe and it all just the same. The human monkey has a
lot against it but it has some subtlety of psyche and
fun. I find this missive more scary than your
Yes, the Lit Canon has been being slowly buried for
years. And so it should. It wrote everybody but a few choice
names of white male and dubious movements out of
history. It was pernicious, dictatorial, and
I agree absolutely with that as will almost all the
poets reading this list I think.
But hey, having no opinion at all isn't the way to
bury the canon for ever! That is the way to resurrect it. Don't
spoil a good thing that hasn't even got going properly. Just when the
working class, the women, the ethnics, the blah blah are in a position to show
their brilliance, their long suppressed 'voices' along comes you saying -
ach - you're all the same!!
Sorry - I don't buy that and I think you are cutting
your nose to spite your face. Or cutting our noses to spite our
faces? The very people whose nose you think you are protecting.
Protecting us from being remarkable? I do think there is a thing that is a
cut above average. Are you saying that you don't walk down the street and
have a favourite building? A favourite anything? Something that
sparks you off? If the answer to the last is yes then why is poetry the
But if you have no push and pull whatsoever how
can anyone on this list explain to you why they invite one poet and not another
to contribute to their website or magazine?
Bemused, bothered and bewildered.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2005 12:55
Subject: Re: ethnic writers
I'm sorry Geraldine and others if my allotment analogy
to poetry/poets offended or upset but--
Greens have the slogan - dig where you stand (which I
think is kin to some poets). Truth is, 'dig where you stand' either elevates
the digger or buries the digger (in the grave dug). Poetry as
individual on high is that problematic. You can't do that on an
allotment: what you perceive as your individuality is its dialectic opposite.
The richer each element of the tapestry, the richer the whole.
I know I sound crass but - an Irish teacher and poet,
way back in the early 1970s, was my mentor. We were at some folk club in an
overspill town and Joe Sheerin turned to me (me, headlong into Hart Crane
and The Beats), and said: "there is no such thing as good writing and bad
writing - there's writing."
I kicked like a mule then - I've kicked like a mule
these years hence - for surely there is 'arbitration' - there's a cannon,
there are university certificates, there are great poets arbitrating, there's
a poetry God to say what's 'good' and what's 'bad!'
No. Joe was/is right: there is writing. Just writing.
I'd like to know how you arbitrate over 'good' and 'bad'
Until 1990 Shelley's 'Peterloo Writings' of
1820 were not published in Britain. Editors of his work would not publish
'Mask of Anarchy' or his polemic prose. The poetry/publishing world split
Percey Byshe into two people: the intellectual of 'Queen Mab' and 'Prometheus
Unbound' and the "juvenile" who extended Thomas Paine's writings -
who was thereby, in my view, the bridge between Blake, Chartism and Marx.
As said, what are your criteria?