Poetry is a political statement, and also serves as historical documents. Wordsworth charted the Lakes and environmentalism, and Carol Ann Duffy maps our current century for future generations. Whether poets think about this while they’re writing is debatable, but the outcome is the same, poetry charts our history.
Poetry and Covid
I know I’m not alone when I say poetry has been a huge comfort this year. Zoom has meant I’ve attended more events than ever, written more poems than ever, but the impact of Covid-19 on a human level is horrifying. Poetry being written today will be historical documents in the future – just like poems written during the 1918 flu or the AIDS epidemic. Whether intentional or not, writing something down is documenting it. I was watching a documentary on beachcombing a few weeks ago, in which a historian said glass bottles and bits of china were the rubbish of their day, and yet hold huge historical value because they show the day to day lives of ordinary people. I feel that writing during this time is the same idea. We may worry about readers reaching a saturation point with Covid poetry, but it’s essential that individuals continue charting their experiences so that we continue to humanise every single death, every single case.
If you’d like to hear more on writing the pandemic click here for ‘rising to the challenge, poetry in the age of covid’.
Poetry and Climate
Our climate is changing rapidly. Poetry is a medium unlike any other for distilling words down to an exact image, an exact meaning, an extract moment in time, and few issues are as urgent as this within our world. By writing about the environment poets are able to show the urgency warranted, but as history shows, for an issue to be taken into the public consciousness there needs to be empathy (no-one likes to be shouted with no hope of righting their wrong). Righteous anger and the lobbying of governments are actions which come later – because the communication channels need to be open in the first place. Personally, this is where I think poetry comes in. Poetry is unique in that it can be a battle cry swathed in something beautiful. It takes something terrifying, existential and awful and haunts you. Poetry and David Attenborough have lots in common. You must showcase the plastic in the stomach contents of seabirds, but without hope, without individual action and some beauty, what are we fighting for?
If this subject intrigues you do click here to book ‘100 Poems to Save the Planet’, this year at KPF.
The Gamification of Poetry
In the words of Jon Stone, from his blog here ludokinetic poetry is “The view of games and poems as sites of distributed responsibility, where the audience makes meaning for themselves through the effort of engagement, is a minority one. It obscures (or de-centralises) the figure of the author, and may leave the reader or player feeling overly self-conscious about their role. But it is a view which best describes, to my mind, the way both games and poems aspire to a state of alive-ness, of volatility, of being riddled with secrets. I am not sure I would be interested in either if I didn’t regard them in this way.” Individuals have an impact on the narrative, choices or characterisation, among other things within the work. This is gamification calls into question the boundaries of poetry and what the relationship between poet and reader really is.
Want to hear more? Book Ludokinetic Poetry with Jon Stone at KPF here https://www.kendalpoetryfestival.co.uk/events/ludokinetic-poetry-with-jon-stone/