Oh dear. I thought we were winning in getting people realise that poetry is living, is real and is not merely freeze dried and preserved in books. But obviously, I'm far too naiive. In my online travels tonight I came across this article by an experienced NZ literary reviewer:
Enough said in my comment. I guess there are different parts of the NZ writing scene, and it's hard to inhabit them all (as the growing pile of books-to-be-read by my desk will testify.) But come on, there is much more to being a writer than getting published!
I saw no better illustration than in the poetry reading I attended tonight. The Belfast Poets are a group of young, energetic performance poets who each have a unique style but a united voice. They have made it their mission to produce poetry that is strong poetically but which often carries disturbing messages through its imagery: a hungry child, a white king, a soldier killed by lies.... And as well as promoting poetry's power to make people stop and think, they demonstrate a social conscience.
We "writers" could all take a leaf out of their book I think. PEN (international society of writers) certainly puts freedom of speech and social conscience very far ahead in their agenda - after all, if writers don't feel free to write what they feel*, who will?
By the way, Shane Koyczan is a poetry god. I say this unashamedly. I was at the reading Amy describes in her review and there was way more than one person crying. See him if he comes to a town near you, it's an experience.
* there are snooty types who will argue for "art for art's sake". These are the same people for which words like "love" and "beauty" are dirty words in poetry and will argue that a scrawled line across a page not even resembling a word is high art (depends on the scrawler, I guess). Me, I hope I'll always believe that you must have passion, not merely innovation, to write well. And that the reader is the final judge of what is "good" writing.