A funny Story

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HERE’S a funny story. A poet mistook me for another famous poet and publisher who has the same name as me. He sent me an email which said: “I would like to offer a poem or poems for publication. My poetry is on the theme of anti-capatilist [sic] establishment and anti-bankers in particular”. Hahaha! I had a long laugh at that (not least because he couldn’t even spell!). For in order to ingratiate oneself to anyone who’s anyone in the mainstream poetry scene these are the sort of credentials one has to present. You have to be left-wing and politically correct! It’s a treadmill. And the poetry treadmill today is indeed a depressing one. In order to become a “successful” poet in the mainstream one is supposed to go through a series of hoops like a circus dog. First, one is supposed to send poems to poetry magazines (which are only read by poets). Then one is supposed to enter one’s poems into competitions (which only poets know anything about or read). But getting published in poetry magazines or winning poetry competitions means nothing at all in terms of being a poet. Showing off to other poets and seeming to be clever to each other and publishing each other is just a fancy mutual back-slapping exercise. We shouldn’t write for other poets but for real people and our poetry should be judged as to how much it moves real people’s hearts. That is the acid test and is the true role of the poet rather than trying to impress other poets or those who have set themselves up as judges of poems simply because they run a “creative writing” class, have the right political credentials or have themselves jumped through all the right hoops. These days to “succeed” in the mainstream poetry scene one has to conform to certain prerequisites such as being thoroughly left wing, being politically correct to a T, never really rocking the boat (and I mean *really* rocking the boat rather than merely scoffing at soft targets like “capitalist bankers”), avoiding using rhyme, eschewing sonnet-writing, steering clear of any romantic elements and being willing to ass-lick the *right* people. Well fuck all that! Real troubadours would never get on that conformist treadmill because *success* for a real artist is not about vanity-traps such as winning competitions or getting published but is about reaching into the hearts of people (and even changing them) in a meaningful and lasting manner. (It’s an equally depressing treadmill in the music scene too; but I’ll come back to that one some other time 😉

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