In the interests of balance, here’s a number of facets that might help us out of the poetry mire:
1. strength and depth. Good poetry endures and embeds itself in our culture and our sense of ourselves. Great poetry endures because of its depth, because it reflects the complexity and nuances of our existence;
2. Paul Celan, J H Prynne, Geoffrey Hill, John Milton and (probably) Edmund Spenser- all for very different reasons;
3. flexibility. Poems can be read aloud to an audience or to oneself. We can read poems to ourselves. Poems can be learned by heart;
4. lack of definition, the prose-poetry-song boundary is never clearly drawn. This is a good thing;
5. variety of form;
6. variety of style, even when two or three styles gain an ascendancy there is still room for the rest to breathe;
7. most poems are short enough to be learned by heart;
8. passion, great poems express passion better than any other art form;
9. brevity, poems can express complex thoughts and feelings in a very short space;
10. Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Olson, Keston Sutherland, John Matthias and David Jones purely on the grounds of technical merit.
The question that must be asked is whether the above can be utilised to get poetry out of its current malaise?
Any amendments, solutions would be warmly welcomed….
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