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

Waiting for the Brown Trout God by Pauline Rowe

The state of British poetry, today, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the more dynamic poets in the USA, for example, much of British poetry is tired and doesn't want to be woken up.

And so it is with great relief that Headland Press have issued this collection.

Pauline Rowe uses many concerns to create the narratives in these poems and in some there is a sense of the 'Confessional, and there is much use of the feminine third person. In itself this is nothing new, but Pauline is also concerned with the sound. When the sound of a poem feels right then the subject matter is secondary. So in '1967', for example we have lines such as 'He worked at Fords. Couldn't work her out'; beautifully balanced and loaded with so many meanings.


'She crossed off days
on the calendar
left by the milkman'

. . . from 'Wedding Elegy'. There is an overwhelming sense of pathos in this,but that is what makes a great poet. Pauline Rowe allows the reader to emote for themselves. Her poems play as journeys within the reader mind with lines and words acting as signposts for us.

The poem 'Waiting' opens with the stand - alone line 'Each day I wait for you'. Pauline seems to recognise the banality of the line and yet manages to raise it up to confront the reader and make them feel that this line is so vital.

Pauline can also prove to be playful. 'The Love Song Of Violet Trefisis' uses rhyme to maximum effect and ends with the stanza:

'I have heard the whispering
of husbands
each to each'

It is not pastiche. The poem has nothing of Elliot's vanity (though it is full of conciet) and even the existentialism seems to say more about humanity, in general, than it does of the individual.

For me it is the poem 'Burma' that is a personal favorite. It suggests the care, inteligence and love that have been put into all the other poems, but I find that this is one of the most unsettling poems I have come across.

I would recommend this book highly to anyone who cares about poetry but also to those who have never bothered with it. 'Waiting for the Brown Trout God' will make you realise why poetry can be so special.