Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Poetry is a destructive force

The following September, when the first issue of Poetry Nation appeared, Pablo Neruda and W.H. Auden died.
Such is the power of Poetry Nation; but why, oh why, do they they think it cool to call themselves PN Review?

Meanwhile, as Oxford Comma Madness runs rife National Poetry Day will be celebrated with a grocers' apostrophe:
National Poetry Day 2011 gives all New Zealander’s the opportunity to channel their inner poet and share their poems with each other in new and old ways. Chalk a poem on the street; txt your poem to a dedicated 021 number; read your poem aloud at an open mic event; or simply relax in a café, bar, gallery, cinema, library or school and let poems wash over you.
Really. This was not written by a poet. How about that syntax? How clumsy is the phrase "channel their inner poet and share their poems with each other in new and old ways?" Shall we count the ways? No let us not bother. And what about the imagery? One does not channel something within. The channeller goes into a trance and becomes the instrument through which a 10,000 year-old Hopi Indian chief (they are always Hopi; somehow they cornered the chanelling market in the spirit world) speaks to us all about nature conservation. As for the case management, how many New Zealanders can you find in this picture?

The worstest of all is left to the end: "simply relax in a café, bar, gallery, cinema, library or school and let poems wash over you." Wut? Is this Easy Listening Poetry Day? Is the purpose of poetry to wash away the aches and strains of the day ? You were wrong, Mr Stevens: poetry is not a destructive force; it is a soothing balm. As for you, Mr Eliot:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
No, let us not. Let us kick back and relax with a trim latté and let the poems wash over us, like the saxophone magic of Kenny G.

Here's a poem about death by Philip Larkin:

1 comment:

booksellersnz said...

Fair call. I've corrected the apostrophe crime and we'll resolve to be harder in our editing of press releases so they're less trite. I trust this won't put people off heading along to the many great events, which are all listed on our site too. Emma - Web Editor at Booksellers NZ.