Above: " The Muse Inspiring The Poet" ( Henri Rousseau)
Have a look below, because it's fascinating stuff; the words of the poets themselves say it all...
" Deprivation" said Philip Larkin "is for me what daffodils were for William Wordworth"
( Hmm...We all need stimulus!!)
and Robert Frost: " Writing Free Verse is like playing tennis with the net down."
( This paints a fascinating picture, doesn't it?!)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge ( crisply) : " Prose, that's words in their best order. And poetry, that's the best words in the best order"
( Would fiction writers agree, I wonder?)
And Carl Sandberg:" Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air..."
( So ARE poets frustrated beings??)
While in the 60's, Bob Dylan, declaring his first love is poetry with his music a mere second, said :" I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet"
( And he's still here, still writing, still singing...)
More recently, Andrew Motion, England's Poet Laureate since 1999 , said tellingly:"Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people"
( Possibly things are improving. Poetry IS more accessible, more "getattable"....)
This week, I met Cheshire's 2006 Poet Laureate, Andrew Rudd. He said how one of his briefs on being elected, was to change the state of affairs that Motion described.
Rudd wanted to take poetry to new places, to encourage folk to enjoy it as part of everyday life. In other words, he wanted to be rid of this ignorance and instead, find acceptance.
Andrew is a friend of Anne, a longtime member of one of my writing groups ; Anne invited him to run a workshop for us at her place. The workshop was fun; through exercises and conversation, we looked at connections between prose and poetry and we left Anne's house with smiles on our faces, with new ideas, with enthusiasm.
To some extent, we'd witnessed the loveliness of poetry, seen it hidden in prose, looked at its lyricism, but we'd also seen poetry "demystified".....so that we could " handle"it, enjoy and understand it.
Poetry hadn't lost its dignity, but we were more on the way to viewing its usefulness in our daily lives.
And hopefully, our visitor will visit our writing group again sometime...
Andrew Rudd was Cheshire's 4th Poet Laureate; each Laureate is elected by members of the county council and they " reign" for a year. At the end of this period, a book of their work is published. Andrew's collection has the fetching title: " One cloud away from the sky"
The 5th and present Cheshire Laureate is Jo Bell; she's a professional archaeologist, who lives on a narrow boat. She says she started writing poetry to win over difficult classmates; as good a reason as any!
Other Cheshire Laureates were Harry Owen, John Lindsay and Joy Winkler. Interestingly, their poetry is as varied in style and content as their backgrounds.
Andrew told us that there are half a dozen or so similar schemes throughout the country; Cheshire's Laureate was initiated by Literature Development Officer, Liz Newell, several years ago.
Once elected, the Cheshire Poet Laureate is expected to promote poetry within the county, to work on 5 separate commissions about significant events within the county and also to read and judge various poetry competitions.
Originally, England's Poet Laureate was chosen by the reigning king or queen. They would be paid a stipend and be required to pen a poem describing both national and royal events.
The first unofficial PL was Ben Jonson; later Edward Spenser wrote his " Faerie Queen" for Elizabeth 1st. Howvere in 1668, John Dryden was officially declared PL and his appointment was for Life. Later PL's have included Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Tennyson, Sir John Betjamin and Ted Hughes, from 1984 until his death in 1998.
Andrew Rudd, Jo Bell et al, in their own special way, are clearly following in very special footsteps.