"A principal rule for writers, and especially those who want to describe their own sensations, is not to believe that their doing so indicates they possess a special disposition of nature in this respect. Others can perhaps do it just as well as you can. Only they do not make a business of it, because it seems to them silly to publicise such things."
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
children playing in ruins of mill
me 40 summers ago
walking by today
This article in the Guardian is an entertaining example of how every ten years or so the media declares a movement of young poets who are popularising the form, or taking it off the dusty bookshelves. It was said of the beats (who were really the most conservative poets of the 20th Century) in the 1950s, of various hippy writers in the 1960s, of the punk poets in the 1970s and 80s, of slam poets in the 1990s...
In the early 1990s, a Scottish publisher put out an anthology that was supposedly the work of the best younger Scottish poets. There was a launch of the book at a branch of Waterstone’s in Edinburgh. The editor of the anthology, Donny O'Rourke, began with a declaration that “Poetry is the new rock 'n' roll,” a statement that had appeared in the book sections of some newspapers around that time.
I was standing next to my friend the late Paul Reekie, perhaps the most brilliant Scottish poet of my generation, so of course his work wasn’t dull enough to be included in the anthology. When he heard the editor’s pitch, he laughed and called out, “Shite.”
Reading the excited chatter about the "Instapoets," I can still hear Paul's laughter.
The River Kelvin runs near the Glasgow tower block where I live in a small flat on the 10th floor. I walked to the river in search of a rock I could get to represent the Buddha on the altar I’m assembling on my veranda. I found one lying at the side of the path, so I put it in a plastic bag and staggered home, holding its weight in both arms.