Short work

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

A poet – I can’t remember who – wrote recently that she’d read a novel and thought: I could do that in ten lines.  It reminded me of a question often asked in creative writing classes I’ve taught over the years.  What’s the difference between fiction and poetry?  To which I start to respond, several times, eventually leaving it hanging, really.

What about the difference between a short poem and a long one?  Okay, perhaps I’m being wilfully naive here.  The Waste Land takes on civilisation; Edward Thomas’ ‘The Cherry Trees’ is but a simple metaphor.  But; but.  Both are elegies; each testifies to the wretchedness wrought on people’s lives and minds by the First World War.  Perhaps the scope of Eliot allows for a recognition of fracture in its form, while the brevity of Thomas’ poem doesn’t.  But as for emotional impact?

The Cherry Trees

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.


On dissent

May 11, 2012 § 4 Comments

Revolutionary times: and while we look on from the littered margins, some thoughts on dissent…

Dissenters were nonconformist religious (including Protestants, Quakers and Jews) who disagreed with the doctrines of the established Church.  As a result, they were unable to take degrees at Oxford and Cambridge.  Dissenting Academies were set up, particularly in the north of England, as a result.  There was one at Attercliffe near Sheffield whose alumni included archbishops and scientists.

Dissent  di-sent’, v.i. to think differently: to disagree in opinion: to differ (with from). – n. the act of dissenting: difference of opinion: a protest by a minority.  (Chambers)

The Blakes were Dissenters.  As was Marvell.  And Defoe.

dissentious (Shak.) disposed to discord, contentious.

Poetry being an antagonistic form (working in tension with the structures that serve to define it), any modern Dissenting Academy (whatever that may be) should accommodate it.  Are there such things – physically or virtually?  Might there be?  What would the aims and principles of such a thing be?

My own initial thoughts:

It would be free and non-selective;

It would be anti-discriminatory;

It would, directly or indirectly, dissent from / protest against the dominance of ‘the centre’ (politically, culturally, socially);

It wouldn’t offer pathways, or qualifications of any kind; and would attack the notion that creativity’s contribution to the economy contributes significantly to its value.

Any thoughts?

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