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

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Common Breath: a poetic tradition*

Essay by Tom Leonard
The politics of space on the page is a politics of democracy, of transference from world of text as “the” to that of reader-subject as “this”. It is the universalisation of the author-reader experience away from the world of passing-the-parcel to those fit to open the parcels of cultural referents of supposedly universal value (which opening of parcels has been the industry of literary-academic exegesis’s this past hundred years); towards the structuring of a system of common breath, integer of the universal human.

The basis of poetry is line, the basis of prose, paragraph—most of the time. Three types of basic poetry line: as unit of metre, as unit of meaning, as unit of articulation. The politics of space belongs to the last.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The War Poets: The Sound of distant drums

Essay by Denis Joe

Recently a Birkenhead (Wirral, UK) society opened a centre devoted to Wilfred Owen.  I lived in Birkenhead for seven years and was always bemused by the fact that the town saw little merit in celebrating this most famous of poets.  There is a stain glass window in the Museum and there is a small thoroughfare named after him, but that was all. 

The new centre is modest in the extreme, it looks like just another shop and it is hard to imagine it as a ‘tourist spot’ as it has very little of interest in it.

Though I have little time for themes in poetry, preferring that the poem stands on its structure rather than on its literal meaning, with the War Poets it is nigh on impossible to mention them without , primarily, looking at the historical events in which they composed their poetical works[i].  Whilst personal experience may drive the poet in their work it is only as material; manipulated into a form for the audience to make sense of and even relate to their own lives.  It is not the role of the poet to become an agitator for some cause or other and whilst Owen, Sassoon, Brookes, Graves, etc.  called on their experience of fighting in World War 1, to inform their work it is laziness to see the work as comments on warfare.