Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Sharper Lens

The tear, half,
the sharper lens, movable,
brings the images home to you.

-'An Eye, Open' (Paul Celan, trans. Michael Hamburger)


Perhaps it's the ubiquitousness of blogging in the 21st century; perhaps it's the fact that I can't stop posting poetry quotations on Facebook; or the fact that I simply don't write enough these days; but the idea occurred to me some time ago that I would like to start a blog to post some of my favourite poems (written by others, not myself...at least at this point) and to share my ideas about them. As Sherlock Holmes once (or possibly more than once) said: "We can but try - the motto of the firm."

I am open to suggestions, of course. I may at some point post some of my own poetry, but have concerns about copyright (more about that later) and would like to try to 'publish' some of my poems before choosing to 'self-publish.' I imagine that I might not stick rigidly to the poem/discussion format, but I also imagine that poetry will be the central theme.

I don't remember reading much poetry as a child, and thus am still a bit lost when it comes to the world of children's poetry, although there is some marvellous work out there, and my current job demands that I look at it on a fairly regular basis. This has been an education in itself; but my "eureka" moments regarding poetry, and especially modern poetry, came mainly during my studies at university. A modern British poetry class was especially good, introducing me to the likes of Vernon Watkins and Louis Macneice, among many others. A cynical attempt to dash off my Canadian literature requirement in the minimum amount of time possible led me to a summer course in Canadian poetry and the delights of P K Page, Al Purdy - who came and spoke to my class and filled the room with his humorous and overwhelming presence - Irving Layton, and others. W B Yeats was one of the many people, living or dead, who led me to live in Ireland for a few years. Now in London, I have an embarrassment of riches at my doorstep where poetry is concerned. Again, the living and the dead are both abundantly represented.

I do have one outstanding concern: the issue of copyright. I'm likely to post some work by poets who are out of copyright (more than 70 years dead) and will probably start with a couple of those. However...most of the poets whose work I particularly love have not been dead for more than 70 years, or are still with us. And though I know that most people merrily post away where copyrighted work is concerned, I'm not entirely happy with that. This may mean dashing off emails to various publishers ask if I can please please please post a particular poem, but I can't help wondering if I'm going to make myself look like an idiot in the process. I suppose it might provide a bright spot in the Rights department's day: "Can you believe this? This dear sweet over-honest poetry lover asked if she can use this poem in her blog... If only she hadn't asked...now I have to say no." Well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it, probably after a bit of Yeats and Hardy to start out.

Enjoy, comment, suggest, and above all, please seek out more work by these poets. If I recommend them, obviously they are well worth reading...

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