Monday, 9 May 2011

Poetry, please…

I've been belatedly catching up with reading journals instead of doing my marking. In the consistently thought-provoking New Welsh Review (or as they have it, new welsh review because they're cool), Gwyneth Lewis (read her The Meat Tree) writes about almost becoming an American poet - cool, detached, abstracted, rather than what she sees as Welsh: particular, local, passionate.

She says this:

Poetic language unsettles, disrobes and undermines, and if it's doing anything else it's become corrupt.

Which I think is important. I get the sense that most people are turned off by poetry in their schooldays by being given a load of pretty stuff about flowers. Usually the texts aren't really about flowers, but that's not made clear. Most poems are about sex, death and the big issues.

Perhaps we should replace Wordsworth et. al with Larkin, R. S. Thomas, the Rosettis, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Petrarch. Whatever you think of Carol Ann Duffy's work, her poetry has never been corrupt - despite being appointed to the most corrupting poetic job of all, Poet Laureate.

1 comment:

Ewarwoowar said...

The only poetry that should be taught, ever, is Siegfried Sassoon and Ogden Nash.

Admittedly, there's a bit of a contrast there, but they're the only two I can stomach.