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, 20 January 2012

Carol Anne Duffy and the Poetic Equivalent of Ambulance Chasing


I hold my hands up and freely admit that I have never had much time for Carol Anne Duffy’s work. I feel that her position as poet laureate reflects a devotion to making poetry ‘relevant’, leading to a debasement of the art of poetry itself.

From the outset what marked Duffy’s laureateship was not a commitment to the art of poetry but a flouting of her own liberal views (particularly playing to the gallery of The Guardian readership). In her first ‘poem’ as poet laureate, Duffy tackled the scandal over British MPs expenses. The fact that this was done in a poetic form: that of a sonnet; does not detract from the question of whether it works as a poem or is just simply a piece of populist doggerel. Most of Duffy’s writing, as laureate, deals with issues such as environmentalism, AIDS, the war in Afghanistan and even, embarrassingly enough, David Beckham. At times it seemed that the role of laureate came to resemble a schoolchild’s attempts to please his/her English teacher: what could be termed ‘fridge magnet poetry’ if you like.