Lots of people get very put off poetry at school, being told there is some Meaning which they must “get” and be able to explain in a hundred words or fewer; being made to struggle through a tortured “off-by-heart” recitation which turns into a humiliation-fest; or simply not being shown how a poem might possibly relate to them—to their experiences and feelings. I feel both sad and angry about such a loss of opportunity. You probably wouldn’t be on this page if you are one of those people—but on the off chance that you are: welcome!
Somebody—I think it was Ruskin but it might have been Pater or of one of those other Victorian bods—said ‘all art aspires to the condition of music’ (or something very like that). For me, that refers to the way music can have a deep and powerful impact on us, in an immediate, visceral, a-cerebral way. It just gets through to us, and it is great and glorious that it does. Different music does it for different people. And all other art forms (according to Ruskin/Pater/Victorian chappie) ‘aspire’ to that.
I believe that great poetry can do the same sort of thing. We can have a response to a poem without really knowing why, or how it has happened, or even what exactly that response is. We don’t need to be able to explain it—though sharing it and talking about it can be wonderful—or analyse it, though sometimes understanding the “how” can make the “what” even more glorious. But, in the end, whether or not we can say anything explicit or even coherent about our response to a poem, when we find a text which ‘gets’ us, it can help us ‘get’ ourselves. It’s worth being moved, challenged, inspired and disturbed by a poem. It helps us waken to our experience of being human.
So there will eventually be lots of poetry here on the bookshelves. You’ll find a shelf of collections and anthologies of poems, and another with the what the afternoon knows own anthology. This will contain readings of a wide variety of different poems, together with the text (where copyright allows); and there will also be some of my own work.
Tea, cake, poetry. Someone to talk to about it (feel free to get in touch). Aaahhh….