Monday, April 6, 2015

The poems I like to read

I have downloaded the programme for the Franschhoek festival. I would like to book now, but I must wait to see what Jenny wants to do. We are going together either on the Friday or the Saturday. I think probably the Friday.  We had thought of staying over, but the cheapest place will not accept bookings for less than two nights and Jen doesn't want to stay away from home that long.

When deciding what to book for I am looking particularly at the Poetry events. This is not only because I am a poet myself and read quite a lot of poetry, but also because I want to support my fellow poets. Many of those that are reading are personal friends.

As far as the Festival goes, I am attending the events prepared to listen and  enjoy, but when it comes to reading poems and even more when I contemplate buying a book of poems, I am rather fussy. There are several kinds of poems that I don't much like. Some of these I will listen to if I really have to and will skim over when I encounter them in a journal, but some I don't want to read at all. I list those below.

1. Poems in which the meaning is very obscure.
Sometimes one has to read a poem a few times before knowing what it is about,  I am prepared to do this if the poem is worthwhile, if the words are beautiful for instance or if it has something new and important to say. But some people who write poetry seem to think that a poem should be full of ambiguities and some even seem to think intelligibility is unnecessary and that it is the reader's job to supply meaning. I was shocked to find this sentiment actually expressed by a modern, (or perhaps Post-modern,) American Poet. If the writer himself doesn't care enough about what he wants to say, to make it clear to the reader, why should the reader care about it either. If on reading the first stanza of a poem two or three times, I still don't understand it,I don't bother to read the rest of it.

2. Sermon poems.
These are poems listing or dwelling on sins. Not the poet's own sins but the sins of those around him or her. Hypocrisy and self-righteousness are favourites. Lack of care for the poor or the environment are also frequent subjects. I have never liked being lectured. A pet hate is Philip Larkin's This be the verse.

3 Confessional poems.
But not all confessional poems. There is much confessional poetry that I like very much, but some poems are just too gloomy and others are the kind of which it is said that they give "too much information." I prefer blood and guts to be in crime novels,

4. Political poems
I know I should read  more of the so-called "Struggle  Poetry" and I do think that some of the Black poets are very good, but I just don't enjoy this kind of Poem.

5.Long narrative poems.
I prefer a story, unless it is very short, to be in prose. On the other hand I am not very fond of Flash Fiction (I make an exception of Liesl Jobson's work)

Now with all this in mind I must decide what poetry sessions to book for.


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