Monday, July 22, 2013

Poetic grizzle

A few months ago I submitted a short poem about Thomastown to Red Room's Disappearing project - the idea of it was for poets to write something about an Australian place that had changed over time. Also some stuff about 'providing a digital map of Australia', etc. Anyway, they asked for a small biography and short written statement describing the area, explaining why I chose it to write about, which is where I should have really started being suspicious: the poem that I submitted turned out to be far shorter than my written description. Check it out -


Land of roller blinds and smash repairs
And garden gnomes and thinning hairs.

Of course it didn't get published. Red Room seems to view itself rather like an art gallery for poetry. Pop into an art gallery these days and often the artists' notes and biography and the descriptions of the artworks are more significant than the artworks themselves. (The most egregious example of this I can think of is an exhibition I saw in Newcastle Art Gallery once - the artist had taken a picture of an unremarkable corner of the park just outside the gallery, then printed it digitally in a blue wash, a green wash, etc. The same picture, slightly digitally altered, was hung up all around the room. Beneath one of the pictures was several sheets of A4 paper stapled together, in which the artist had written a gigantic essay about the meaning and significance of their meaningless and insignificant work.)

I suppose this is starting to sound a bit like an 'I didn't get published and so they're bad!' grizzle from me. Because it is, obviously. But I also think I have a point: if the idea is to explain the poetry and let us get to know some of the poets, then the effect is almost to give precedence to the explanation, like a kid writing an essay on Shakespeare without even reading Shakespeare first. (C S Lewis saw this sort of development early on, writing in his essay Lilies that Fester about how the state teaches children appreciation of literature, not being content to let kids read and write and appreciate literature for themselves).

Anyway, some of the poems are online. Here's one. Here's another. And here's a third. The poems are all right and the poets aren't bad either. How's that for appreciation!

No comments:

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive