Poetry has the capacity to surprise, refresh, shock, inspire and entertain, but too often the kind of poetry that’s published these days doesn’t do these things. Too often I’ve found myself skimming rather than reading, because there’s nothing to catch my attention. My response (if any) is too often, ‘Ho, Hum’.
I come from an non-establishment background, and the poems which impressed me most when I first started reading it were the radical ones, the experimental ones, the ones which (a) had something to say, and (b) found a new way of saying it. Ezra Pound’s famous phrase ‘Make it new!’ should be stuck on the front of every poet’s notebook.
Who’s writing radical or experimental poetry these days? It’s hard to tell, because there isn’t enough of it being published these days. And there’s a whole raft of reasons for that absence, but I look back to the 1960s, when there was a reading audience for magazines which published ‘new’ poetry, and that was long before we got into the era of state subsidised publication.