What kind of poetry will people be reading 100 years from now? It is impossible to predict for sure. Yet certain quantifiable trends in the poems published over the past hundred years give a definite indication of where poetry has been, and may give us some clues as to where it is going.
As I have said before, aesthetic matters must be confronted on aesthetic terms. In 1968 a team of researchers asked people to rate different words in the English language on various numerical scales, such as the age the person first learned the meaning of this word and whether the word denotes something masculine or feminine. In 2004, another team extended this research, giving us the Clark and Paivio (2004) Norms — a set of 32 different scores for 925 special words (hereafter “Clark-Paivio words”).
Poetry magazine may be considered a bellwether of taste in American poetry, and conveniently has made nearly 3,000 poems stretching from its inception in 1912 to the present day all available online.
I trained computer software to analyse each one of these poems, counting how often a Clark-Paivio word appeared, which happened nearly 23,000 times in the available online corpus of poems. Armed with this large collection data, I then used a strategy similar to that of Michael Coleman Dalvean, creator of Poetry Assessor. I took the averages of the Clark-Paivio word scores across all 32 variables, rolling these up into an overall score for each poem. For example, the Clark-Paivio word with the lowest age of acquisition is “toy” at 1.5, whereas “bivouac” gets a score of 6.7. If a poem used both words, the poem itself would then get a score of (1.5 + 6.7) / 2 = 4.1 for the “age” variable. Continue reading…
I am currently on the other side of the world from London, flying from Sydney to Hong Kong.
Yet London has been my residence and preoccupation for the past several years, culminating in my forthcoming debut full-length collection of poetry, The Knowledge.
Many of the poems are set in a specific place in London. So, as supplement to a more traditional table of contents, what follows is an interactive Google map of poem titles, including links to online version of the poems where applicable.
Though I am currently in Australia, British poetry is never far from my mind.
I have once again compiled a list of five British poets who I think out to be more widely known on both sides of the Atlantic. I also couldn’t resist supplementing this list with a bonus poet who is becoming an increasingly important part of the UK scene, despite not being exactly British herself.