Friday 21 March 2014

#worldpoetryday / Tick No Box

 Tick No Box

There is only one job
where you make so many friends,
have a lot of laughs,
travel the world,
feel so busy and get so occupied,
feel like you constantly have more to learn
and yet seem to achieve so little.

There is only one job
where there is always a long way to go,
mountains to climb,
humble pie to swallow
so much skying to do,
cloud-bothering and moon-bathing,
hustles and hard knocks,
and that's the full time job of poetry.

Poetry is the poor cousin
at the wedding of real writing,
journalists and authors and comedians
and playwrights and broadcasters are real writing.
I can imagine this grand banquet,
there’s poetry sitting on the floor,
begging and feeding off the scraps it is thrown.
A one-minute slot here,
A bit of telly there
A spot of radio, yeah,
slipped in like an after thought
an amuse bouche, an aperitif,
before the juggler and after the hoola-hoop girl.

About once a year a blaggard,
writes an article with the headline
‘Poetry Is The New Rock And Roll.’
This is swiftly followed by debates about the health of poetry,
as though poetry is an elderly distant relative,
coughing up blood and awaiting test results,
its all about page v's stage and
people get excited…
and then it all goes quiet again,
and poetry slumps back to its blogs and the back pages,
by the crossword and an advert to buy thermal long johns.

Poetry is akin to the poi juggler.
You can see it takes some skill and practice,
But seriously, can you be bothered?
Poetry is the failed comedy,
the indulgent monologue,
the verbose non-song with no melody.

Poetry is all short bony lines with no meat or pictures,
Poetry is hardly ever asked to sit at the big table with real writing,
rarely passed the gravy or the bread,
never given an actual plate or cutlery,
poetry eats off the floor with ink-stained hands,
bad teeth and absinthe blind,
because poetry is a dog,
because poetry is a sad orphan,
because poetry is difficult,
because poetry isn't sexy.
because poetry audiences have no attention span
for a poem that is longer than one minute.

And writing sits up high at the big table feasting,
sucking bone marrow, slurping whine and sour grapes
Hmm interesting…what is real poetry?
Darling, it must be the poetry that was expensive!
Or the poetry that told the truth.
The poetry that was all about you.
The poem that was all about me, me, me...

Or is it the poetry that the clever person told you was clever poetry?
Or the poetry that paid homage and bowed to the Queen?
Or the poetry of the mad or the poetry of the dead?
Real poetry is dead poetry.
Yes. We all agree.
Dead people write real poetry!

I'd rather sit under the table
Than pull up a chair and join the salesmen and magicians.    
And I suggest as poets we all carry on,
carry on as we always have and always will do,
carry on doing our writings and doing our readings,
carry on reading, carry on writing, 
carry on as you were and as you are,
while the big mouths dribble all over the big table,
And decide amongst themselves.
What this is and
Who we are and
Why we do this.

An odd life is poetry,
I do it on purpose.
This work is all my own work,
working towards changing all of the above,
none of the above.

I tick no box.

  (c) Salena Godden / London / 2014


'Tick No Box' taken from the new poetry collection by Salena Godden, FISHING IN THE AFTERMATH, published with Burning Eye, watch this space. 

My next poetry gig is MARCH 27th with the mighty Tongue Fu  - For all David Lynch, William Burroughs or Andy Warhol fans, you might like this one-off show we're doing at The Photographers Gallery in the West End as part of an exhibition of their work. The eagerly anticipated ‘Springfield Road’ a literary childhood memoir will be out soon, look out for news at Unbound... Thanks for following!

Happy World Poetry Day