Thoughts for Dispossessed Poets
“There is another world, and it is in this one”-Paul Éluard
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”-John 1:10
Boo hoo. The modern world we live in does not appreciate poetry. Not like it ought to, not like you and I do. We get it. We eagerly await that new journal or book of poems, smuggle it like contraband into our grey morning commute. We find the one poem that, as Dickinson put it, takes the top of our head off. And it stays with us all day, as we go about our work counting beans or scrubbing out loos. It changes who we are and how we see the world. But nobody else really gets it, and the lack of money is there to prove it.
So maybe we’re doomed.
But poetry has already changed the world–yours, mine–irrevocably in altering how we see it. It is in the world, making and re-making it, and the world has not a clue. But we know. And so we go on reading and writing, having great conversations long past bedtime, walking through the gentle misery of everyday living with this secret knowledge, this little spark that could light the whole world on fire–but doesn’t. Perhaps never will.
Maybe we’re doomed. But we are doomed in good company–you and me–which is to say we are blessed indeed. Ask anyone. The poets always throw the best parties. They dance like they have nothing to lose, because it’s true. And you and me, we’ve made it this far somehow, getting by, doing our thing, making life just about work. John Keats died largely unrecognised. But ask his friends at the time, and he meant as much to them then as he does to many of us now. Do we really expect better for ourselves than the respect of a few respectable peers?
The audience is dwindling. Fine. If you need someone to write for, write for me. I mean it. I need your poems as much as I ever did–the ones I can carry around with me, the blue flame, the chip of ice in my heart. Continue reading