Sunday, September 14, 2014

Finding your poetry

shot_1407548672319 My self imposed challenge to read more poetry and to read more widely is beginning to pay dividends, if not in my own poetry yet, at least in my appreciation of poetry. 

I remember reading and reviewing Aria by Sarah Holland-Batt in January and while I liked a few of her poems right away, I mentioned that subsequent readings might engender more appreciation.  I had the good fortune to pick up a copy of Aria second hand a month or so ago and upon reading the first poem, Pocket Mirror I had the wonderful experience of reading a slightly different poem. 

The poem of course hadn’t changed, I had.  In the eight intervening months I had read more widely and also paid more attention to the technical skill that’s not immediately evident to a casual reader of poetry.  It’s the gift of poetry I suppose - a good poem is one that can draw you in again and again as you grow and experience more poetry.

So that’s one way I have found my own poetry or the poetry that I really enjoy i.e. by continued exposure.

I continually hear that poetry is a dying art, that it can’t make money (except in the form of particular anthologies) and this might be the case but there is still an ocean of poetry being written and published.  Reading more widely, reading poets who allude to other poets work has led me to a couple of recent finds that really hit my love for form. 

I recently read Selected Poems by Thom Gunn and discovered someone who wrote writing engaging and gritty poetry in form as well as free verse.  Likewise, I have really enjoyed Philip Hodgins one of Australia’s critically acclaimed poets, who I am sad to say, I never knew existed. Hodgins’ plain talking poetry depicting rural Victoria and the harsh life on the farm showed me that form  still has a place in contemporary Australian Poetry.  Perhaps his honesty was attractive too, brutal at times, particularly when talking of his impending death. He passed away in 2000 but the Australian Poetry Library has all his works that you can read free here.

Just as with fiction writing there are works that you like and those that you don’t.  There are poems and poets who at first seem impenetrable but reward you the more experienced you become.  Finding your poetry takes time, stick with it.

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