More Poetry Please: why the modern poem represents so much.

Sunday, 2 October 2016



If you'd have asked me half a decade ago my thoughts on poetry, I would have told you all it was boring. Bland. Dead. But now poetry is rearing it's head in new exciting ways, I among the creators.


I adore poetry. I write constantly, on my notes on my phone, on scraps of paper and receipts.
And I'm not the only one. All it takes is a quick search on social media to find millions of results for #poetry. People sharing their #spilledink thoughts in real-time. I think I would be far from wrong to say that in recent years, poetry is having a renaissance. No longer confined to dreary text books in classrooms, poetry is having somewhat of a makeover.



Perhaps poetry is more user friendly now than it has ever been. Instead of the regimented structure of sonnets, thou can now play with free form, loose verses that allow for wider experimentation, snappy stanzas that don't shoot at grammatical or rhythmic faux pas, but thrive in the simple accessible way that so many people are connecting to. This is drawing in the sights of many, with writers such as Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey, 2014) championing the quirky modern poem in a beautiful anthology that's got tumblr raving. (I have read it, and I do have to say her punchy verse, feminist values and arresting honesty makes for a sharp, loving read)


I attended a lecture on War Poetry at a Uni Open day. The lecturer Hugh Haughton was discussing War Poetry, and it's various means- and no, it wasn't boring. It was fascinating.  Hugh was saying that no longer is War Poetry to be confined to the War with a capital, but war with a lower case w. War as in dilemma, confrontation, issues, And this can be modern too- with academics implying that War Poetry is not limited to men in green, but people all over the world- female writers, global writers, writers from outside the literary canon.  And this is something that excites me.

Poetry is everywhere. In headlines. Song lyrics. In descriptive passages of prose. And it's audience is growing. On a creative writing course, out of around 20 of us, many confessed to being 'poets'. None of us were Shakespeare, but that didn't matter, We were writing poetry with pulsing hearts at the centre, and if you ask me, that's all that's needed to make a good poem. Yes it's good to acknowledge the Literary greats in education, but it's also warranted to address budding writers everywhere- that you don't have to write like Heaney to be a poet. Your passion is all that's needed to form something that can shake the world.

Slam poets. Fast talking, hand gesturing, story telling poets. The expression is genius, and youtube is now rife with this kind of verse, people performing their words in innovative ways- and it's beautiful to watch. Awe-inspiring people are right there, just inside the network- you only have to tap and do a few clicks to connect to the experiences of so many people all over the world, 

An author gave a talk at a school in my local area. She said she was a poet, and asked us to raise our hands if we were too. She also mentioned that she didn't want our perceptions of poetry to be warped by the traditionalist syllabus of our English classes. That we can be poets and not have to write what might be called stuffy. We can be poets, and we can be modern. We can be fashionable.

My poetry journey began thanks to Neil Hilborn, a slam poet who found viral fame when his poem OCD started circulating on Button Poetry's Youtube page. The delivery hooked me. Even if the content doesn't resonate with you, you can't argue with the pure pace and feeling behind the performance. 




Other poems that hit me include Matt Coonan's 'Candy', a commentary on the treatment of ADHD I must have watched over ten times. The playful but punchy 'Pluto Shits on the Universe' , a quirky empowering poem by Fatimah Asghar on being happy being the outcast. 

These poets aren't afraid of swearing, of taboo subjects. These poems mean a lot- and censorship is not allowed to get in the way of it.

Since then, I've started to write my own poetry. Good, bad, it doesn't matter. It's exhilirating and free and I made it. And this post is here to act as an encouragement for others to explore poetry, but also, an opening ceremony to announce I will be posting some of my writing, here. I am ready to share with you.

What are your thoughts on poetry?
Have any poems changed your views?



Happy Reading x




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