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The problem with poetry

The problem with poetry is a lack of energy.  Don’t get me wrong, the problem with poetry isn’t a lack of poetry, Christ there’s enough poetry for us all.  Poetry right now is like snow. Snow is falling.  Poetry is falling.  But the problem with poetry stems from a lack of energy. Or maybe I mean the problem with poetry is its lack of diversity.  That’s it.  Snow lacks diversity.  Snow falls, that’s it, it never rises.  Poetry suffers from too much of the same.  Yes, we all write somehow differently but on the whole our ideas are similar, our points of reference stem from the same crap.  Politics. Culture. Art. History. Sex. The train/tube/bus.  Who I am and how I experience things.  And Christ, so many poets are living similar lives.  Yes, the problem with poetry is that the poets are so similar.  Forget names, names don’t count.  Forget sex and colour and creed and everything else, too many poets are coming to poetry from the same starting point.  Too many poets know each other, know of each other, have met each other, have liked/disliked each other.  But I bet their conversations were repeated from time to time.  From town to town. I mean I bet something was said from poet A to poet B that, later and in another place, poet C probably said to poet D.  With the same accent.  And all of them dreaming of being known for their poetry.  That’s it. The problem with poetry is that we all want to be the next big thing.  And if we’re too old to be called the next anything then we just want to be a thing.  Have someone ask us to structure a workshop. And we want to be heard.  You want to be heard.  We doesn’t count here.  If I’m saying we then the problem with we is that we doesn’t want to be a poet.  The problem with poetry is that poets love being heard.  Poets love it, love it too much, when someone else says their name. Even when they’re not there to hear that name being spoken.  That’s the problem with poetry. Every line, stanza, refrain and quatrain is an extension of the self.  And when it’s not that’s a lie.  The experimental poets lie.  They lie the most.  I’ve known experimental poets who pretended to be experimental poets but they were never experimental, they were just looking for a way in.  That’s it.  The problem with poetry is that there are too many poets looking for a way in.  And the door is closed.  For the most part.  Unless you know the key.  Or you pay for the key.  Or you went to school/college/university with the key.  The problem with poetry seems to get bigger. It’s a big problem. And inconsequential.  Let’s be honest, the problem with poetry is that no one wants to read poetry. Not really.  Not honestly.  Listen, I don’t even want to read poetry.  I really don’t.  I did.  I have been.  I read all the poets who were up for The Award and I didn’t like much of what they said. I didn’t dig in. I didn’t fill my gut. I didn’t belch contentedly.  I was bored.  The problem with poetry is that it’s boring. I was at a reading this week and I was bored.  I was bored and I’m a poet.  It was the poets who were boring me. None of them seemed to have thought too much about what/why/how they were performing.  That’s the problem with poetry, at its most basic level, I mean at its most widely appreciated level, it’s seen as a thing to be bashed out, thrown out there, expressed.  That’s the problem with poetry; even the poets aren’t thinking enough about what they’re reading. And on the other hand there are the poets, the ones who have names, who think too much.  Everything is drafted and chiselled and shaped like it has a perfect form. Like there is destination to all of this. Like it has a point. That’s the problem with poetry, it has no point. Or if it did then it lost it.  The problem with poetry is that it lacks urgency.  I know, I know, a few of the kids in their tshirts wrote some books that had urgency, everyone said they had urgency, but listen, I didn’t much like the kids.  I liked bits of the kids but they weren’t my type of kids.  They weren’t my type of poet. I didn’t recognise their accent. Their dialect.  Their language. Their beginnings.  I don’t know anyone with a name like theirs. That’s the problem with poetry, there are too many names.  I’m drowning in names. No, it’s an avalanche of names.  That’s why the poet who everyone hates now stole someone else’s words. He didn’t want their name; he just wanted their words to make his name stand out.  But then the words were just words we’d all read before. Let’s be honest, most of what is written is an echo.  I feel like I’m walking through familiar streets.  Listen, the problem with poetry is that it needs to get lost. I know, it is lost, it is hopeless, but if it just wandered off somewhere for a while then I’d be happy. I mean if it just disappeared down that alley into the snow then I’d forget about poetry and all its problems and think about something else. I’d think about something without words. And nothing would be a problem.  But poetry won’t get lost. Not all of it. Some of it will, some of the poets will wander away and find other wanderers and wander together but there won’t be any wine in the snow or handwritten letters from editors or someone saying their name in the snow. Just snow. That’s the problem with poetry, it doesn’t know how to fix itself. Look, I’m handing you a spanner and a drill and loads of screws to fix yourself.  But you won’t take them will you, poetry.  You won’t just take them. Because there’s no problem with poetry.  Not in your mind. Not in your town. Not in your lines. The old poets are great and the young poets are great and everyone is having a wonderful time.  But the problem with poetry…


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

One response to “The problem with poetry

  1. i don’t want poetry to be – a wooly jumper
    confessional poetry, retirement poetry
    poetry about your dead father, or lost lover
    that’s not the type of poetry for me

    i want imagination, intelligence, sex, a sense of humour
    not just a longing for – something that’s over

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