Welcome To Talking Verse

This blog is dedicated to discussion on poetry.

Poetry, on the European side of the Atlantic, has hardly progressed since the early 20th Century. Whilst in the USA poetry continues to evolve and present itself afresh.

Part of the reason for this is that the issue of poetry has been debated widely in the USA whereas in Britain, for example, you will be hard pressed to find anything that challenges the status quo of poetry.

There have been a few attempts: the Liverpool Beat poets made an short-lived impact during the early 1960s, but they could only offer a poor imitation of a style from the USA.

A handful of poets in the 20th century did make an impact. Basil Bunting and Tom Leonard shook up the established schools. But compared to the US the impact is small. Whilst other art forms have managed to progress over the years, poetry has stood still. Only the narrative has altered to keep abreast of the times.

Many people look to poetry to ‘tell’ them something; as if poetry were some form of journalism or propaganda. The laureateship of Carol Anne Duffy has only reinforced that view. But it is not simply a case of blaming the poets. Duffy is only responding to a demand that arises out of a society that pushes art for other ends, rather than simply art for the sake of it.

Today there is a wide awareness of poetry, the internet is weighted down with poetry sites that offer varying degrees of quality. Poetry is as valid as any other art form but only as long as it operates as an art form. Poets should not be seen as harbingers and the audience should look for meaning rather than rely on the poet or critic to provide answers.


This blog welcomes essays and book reviews about poetry. Please do not submit any poetry. If you wish to use a blog to submit poetry then I would recommend The Poets' Graves Workshop.

All submissions will be read and editing suggestions may be put to the author before being posted. Rejection by the author of any suggestion does not preclude it from being posted on the site.

Talking Verse follows no particular school of thought and has no other remit apart from the widest debate on matters of poetry.

Please submit here

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters (Library of America)


This is an outstanding collection that is intelligently put together. I didn't buy this so much for the stories (they are good, but that is about all I can say). The non-fiction is interesting as are some of the letters. It is the poetry that is the thing. There is a greater selection than Complete Poems and it is well worth the extra view quid. For me, Bishop is not my favorite poet but I regard her as the greatest 20th century poet. Her discipline as an artisan jumps out from every word, her heartfelt constructions, even when doing something as demanding as a sestina, pour our and drown the reader in their beauty.

If you are not familiar with Bishop then it is the poem `The Moose' that one should turn to and experience again and again until it is recognized for what it is: the most perfect poem of the last century.

This is a book to love and that requires a word on the quality of the book itself. It is not any old print on some recycled garbage. The book is shown loving care. the Library Of America produces some outstanding collections and is one of the best book publishers I have come across. These are books made with one eye on eternity.