Wednesday, October 26, 2011

what I learnt as a writer in residence part two

We talk about poetry in ways that are not only different to other arts, but which are detrimental to poems. I’ve never heard anyone say “Music sucks.” Or “Music is sooooo boring” or “I don’t like Music.’

I’ve heard people say “Folk music sucks” or “Wagner is boring” or “I love Bing Crosby and not Frank Sinatra”. But people talk about “Poetry” as if it were a homogenous thing: “I hate poetry”, ”Poetry is soooo boring/difficult/incomprehensible”.

We have a “peak industry body for “Poetry” in Australia.

And inside the academic discourse, teachers talk about “the power of poetry”. Poetry does this or that.

But it doesn’t.

If there is any “power” in poetry lies in the way individual poems mean something to readers. “Poetry” is a meaningless abstraction which cures warts, stops wars or infects readers with unwanted ideological viruses. And which doesn’t exist in the real world.

Oh, I also learnt I can still talk the hind legs off a donkey.

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