Saturday, 10 November 2007

Poetry Is So Easy

Poetry is so easy these days – its blank verse for a blank generation – even so… All styles, from the fractured remnants of archaic stanza form to the modish Modernism of open field, ‘process’ and the like are available to the auteur. Pick-and-mix as you wish! But reject ever more sharply the vainglorious folie de grandeur of epic high seriousness. Embrace instead the cardinal virtues of the imagination – and what are they? Convulsive beauty, automatism, objective chance (phrases taken at random from a top hat), black humour (nothing is sacred), mad love (the amatory mode always appeals) and – no offence! – total freedom of expression. Oppose all the literary ideologies of the last four decades, put yourself on a collision course with ‘theory’, pour scorn on fashionable radical chic nonsense – it is hardly surprising, you might say, that the chattering classes of academia are fixated on language. We know that all the best work is off the radar.
Illustration: Beyond Writing, 1975 [detail]