Ah. Bad book articles. How I’ve missed you! I tried to ignore that side of things – keep a positive mental attitude, sunny view of life, all that stuff – but no, The Guardian have piqued my ire.
Daisy Goodwin, the TV presenter dubbed the Nigella Lawson of poetry, has warned that the art form of Shakespeare and Keats is dying and set to become as quaint as morris dancing.
I’m tired. Do I need to go through the multiple stupidities here? That poetry isn’t dying, since it can’t die. You may not recognise it, and a lot of people may not like it, but the lyric impulse and the will to make things out of words are persistent. It’s a various family and out at the edges things get odd but people won’t stop reading it and God knows they won’t stop writing it. We may not be in an age of great poetry (that seems about right, from what little I’ve read of the shortlist), but so be it. If the times can’t make a Keats, we may as well enjoy what we have.
(Incidentally, ‘dubbed’ by whom? When you’d see Goodwin on the telly, it’d be fairly obvious that you were watching someone trying slipstream Nigella; there was something kind of creepy about the whole thing – the bovine stolidity, the voice nasally mangling itself, the way she’d stroke and lengthen the wrong syllables – all v. disconcerting, like the kind of flirting that comes from someone who just smells desperate, a hearty girl deciding to undo a couple more buttons on her Rugby shirt, more manatee than mermaid. I just don’t think one should sustain the PR awfulness of ‘Nigella for poetry’. And why would anyone print this article? Who cares what Goodwin says? Why am I even bothering to post this?)
If you mean that people don’t make rhymed things that express feelings nicely, well, you’re wrong. They certainly try, and they’re mostly rubbish.
I mean what does it do, saying ‘poetry is dying’? It’s not like Prynne’s going to think “Fuck me! Fry and Goodwin are right”, burn his latest critique of the scientistic post-Humean ego-economy eroded by an autophagic inadequate language, then pick up the rhyming dictionary and get to work on his new sonnet “I love you because you’re nice”. Art carries on in dark places, and it ignores all this nonsense.
If you take the ‘poetry is dying’ attitude, you aren’t defending traditional values, you’re just upping sticks to a sucky little new-build suburb of post-modernity, right next to pastiche. William Morris hates you: you are Laura Ashley; you are Llewelyn-Bowen.
You’re demanding the quaint stuff. Here’s a curse: may you get what you want. May your bookshelves groan with a million million variants of Warning and High Flight. May your limits stay your limits. You’re dead.
The ending is funny though:
Debbie Williams, of Waterstone’s, admitted poetry sales were static. ‘It’s mostly older people who read poetry, which is a shame. There’s a lot of contemporary poetry which is relevant and exciting, with young people talking about the Iraq war.’