SOMETHING ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF POETRY?
Oh that this too too stuffy art could chill, relax and take itself less seriously.**********
Or that the gods of the craft had not set standards too high in the first place.
God, God, how uncompromising, aloof and obscure some poems can be
Shame on them, shame, the hardest things the mind creates with least reward;
Things more mundane and meaningless are honoured better, and swifter,
And it has come to this, but a few years since the birth of the Internet
Even before anyone knew how safe or wide the world wide web could truly get
Anyone who had a heart, fingers, a computer plagued, by frustrations or joys
Of modern life began to write this thing. Why poems? Why poems? Even Poems!
A joke-bomb with a little self-respect could have exploded with less speed,
In just a few years, even before they learned to tell a haiku from a sonnet,
Rhythm from rhyme, assonance from consonance or simile from strophe,
They wrote, all lines and words uncared for, doing it their way, feeling good.
In a few years, even before they had read Elliot, Poe, Yeats, Okigbo or Angelou,
They wrote, oh most exuberant rush, to attend a palace dinner in ragged clothes.
It is not and will come to no good in our lifetime purists pompously say,
but hang me if you will, for I must disagree and hear what every voice must say.
You want to write? Write like your life depends on it. Obviously do your best to get better everyday at what you do. If people tell you what is good or bad about your work, take their words for what they are--opinions--which you may or may not want to take on board, as long as your work has some soul in it, and you arrange it in a way that makes it readable, understandable, you will probably be alright.
Featured in this issue are poems by Chika O. Okeke, Victor Ehikhamenor,
Kola Boof, Ife Awonubi, and Tom Chivers.
Poems Cover Page Home
Take this away, from Rainer Maria Rilke in Letter To A Young Poet:
" ...describe your sorrows and desires, passing thoughts and the belief in some sort of beauty--describe all these with loving, quiet, humble sincerity, and use, to express yourself, the things in your environment, the images from your dreams, and the objects of your memory...And if out of this turning inward, out of this absorption into your own world verses come, then it will not occur to you to ask anyone whether they are good verses…for you will see in them your fond natural possession, a fragment and a voice of your life."
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Here is a special wish for a prosperous and creatively successful 2003.
Happy New Year.
London, 1 January 2003
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