Thuxton Phone Box
In defence of poetry…
Poetry is one of the seven tenents by which a civilised cultures are gauged…
As ‘ordinary’ / ‘normal’ people have developed, poetry has formed an integral part of that background of human development.
…Ever since we sat around fires listening to tales of Beowulf right through Shakespeare (some may argue prose as opposed to poetry - to those I cite the patterned speech of Lorenzo to Jessica in the Merchant of Venice) where characters such as Falstaff were placed within the context of the plays to reflect and appeal to the ‘common man’
All the way to Victorian vaudeville which ran up to just post World War Two where artists such as Stanley Holloway plied their trade with recitations of the spoken word.
In cultures as diverse as from ancient Greece through to 1960’s, poets were integral to the culture and poets were often revered and formed a fundamental part of that society. Such a case is Cuba where Jose Marti is a national hero and very much part of their National Psyche.
Even in our western Democracies poets have existed to comment and reflect on society The ‘beat’ poets of the late fifties who throughout Europe often performed in avant grade jazz clubs. At the centre of the ‘hippy’ movement in 1960”s poets drove the movement at its early inception in San Francisco. Even with the Punk movement which opposed Thatcher’s establishment, poets such as by John cooper Clarke, John Hegley and Ian Drury (a true wordsmith according to Phil Jupitus) were close to the Loci of the movement
Youth as always has adapted with words and lyrics manifesting themselves into Hip Hop and other associated musical forms albeit via a rhyming couplet structure and from this has sprung the nouveau poetic genre of of Slamming which is increasingly being seen at trendy summer festivals
But for the majority of ‘ordinary’ /‘normal’ people the hinterland of poetry has drifted away more towards the academic and the elite so much so that our current Prime minister can now mis-quote Tennyson and still be perceived by some as a “towering intellect".
I never thought I would say ( or indeed write..) this but I regret the day that I cringed at some of Pam Ayres work…perhaps I myself was trying too hard to become part of that intellectual elite as I sat late at night discussing Dylan, Ginsberg, Mitchell and Neruda et al whilst listening to Pink Floyd or Soft Machine and watching the powdered milk dissipate in my instant coffee…Very Bohemian …but at least she pitched her work unashamedly at the ordinary/normal people.
We the ordinary/normal people are in dire need of something like the Liverpool Sound (still the poetry anthology which has outsold most others over time)…It needs poets like Magough and Henri or indeed their modern equivalents to get out more into the pubs again…sorry these days more wine bars, coffee shops, and trendy eateries and ply their trade. At the same time we the ordinary/normal people must be prepared to keep an open mind. After all Poetry is a broad church in both form and subject matter and something within that church will resonate with most of us. Thus we will ensure that this life-enhancing and possibly health beneficial form (reading/writing and listening to poetry has been known to release endorphins!) is open and can be accessed by ALL of us and remain part of our cultural DNA…It is one of the seven tenants which actually define ‘culture’ as stated at the beginning .
…Therefore to all you “ordinary’ / ‘normal’ people…as the cliche goes: Use it by accessing and trying it OR …very much LOSE IT!!!
Poetry for the People!.
Kevan Taplin (failed Poet, failed writer, failed guitarist, failed lyricist…remaining ambition to turn failure into an art form!)