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

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Poetics of Intolerance

Opinion Piece by Denis Joe

The news about the call to shut up US shock-jock, Glenn Beck, over the past month got me thinking about the ranters on this side of the Pond.

I recall it was one of the final Dead Good Poets Society open-mic nights at the Everyman, in Liverpool,  before it closed, temporarily, for refurbishment.

I like the work that DGPS do. The open-mic nights can showcase some really well-crafted poetry.  But the people who take the mic, and seem to be the most popular are those that fall under the umbrella label of performance poets.  Aside from the fact that most are simply a bunch of self-deluded chancers who, if a word doesn’t end in ‘ion’ are pretty lost for rhyme, what I found really disturbing was the level of hate-filled bile most of them spewed out.  And worse: no one in the audience seemed uncomfortable with it.  The contempt for people from the north side of the city (where there has always been high levels of poverty) is openly displayed without any hint of irony.  The Mathew Street festival is a major target for attracting scallies hell-bent on drink and drug binges: spewing up in the streets or threatening violence (you have to understand that these angry young men who pontificate on such behaviour are really just shrinking violets, so easily frightened); and the women are just as bad, wanting to cop-off with anything in trousers.  They all shop at Primark (Oxfam-chic being de rigour in Aigburth) and gorge themselves on fast food .  In short: they’re fat, loud and scary.

Of course Beck doesn’t pretend to be a poet, but he shares much with the moralist ranters.  Beck’s racist and anti-Semitic rants would appal the charity-shop, angry rhymesters  But like them, Beck displays his intolerance.  Beck’s mistake, however, is that he displays the wrong sort of intolerance.  It is not the liberal intolerance against people who dress differently, who take their pleasures differently, who live differently.  Beck’s venom is aimed at different cultures within society.  But for the liberals, their venom is reserved for those they do not see as part of society.

Sadly this view is so entrenched that when these hate-mongers take to the stage they are greeted as far sighted; bringing savage critiques of social dissection, preaching to the converted who failed to notice their rheumal baptism.