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Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Wed May 25, 2016 6:00 pm
by Neville Briggs
I think there is a lot of truth in what you say Stephen.

The issue of the influence of communication technology is a very complex one. I have done some reading on it and it appears that these things are not just neutral vehicles of communication but in fact form attitudes and habits that change the world views, the cognitive processes and even the ethos of our society, and not necessarily to our betterment.

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 7:59 am
by Gary Harding
Yes alongtimegone.... can I also add a similar article that relates to Australian poetry?

It has been kept for ages on my browser favourites list and is entitled :
"The repellant Australian Poetry scene". ... qus_thread

I agree with the vast majority of what this writer says and although the thread topic is "Is Free Verse Killing Poetry", equally with your main article one might imply from what is said that the answer is Yes... in Australia. (note the ABPA get a mention in this article)

In a post on another recent thread I thought that I referred to today's Australian poetry scene as being generally JUNK and corrupt. I must have later changed the wording to being just Rubbish which nobody rose to challenge. "Junk and Corrupt" are strong terms to use in relation to today's poetry scene... but I can make out an evidence based case that would persuade any reasonable person. I never use such strong terms without being able to fully back them up with facts and The Truth, however unpalateable. Even the word corruption which is pretty strong.

Yes, the situation can mostly be traced back to the Free Verse crowd and their total control of the poetry scene. I mean total!! Education, and especially the big Arts dollars that flow through unaudited to various free verse "poets". Awards, Grants, newspaper literary supplements ... you name it. Money.

Geez if some government gave me a $40,000 poetry grant tax free, I would be down the pub spending it or going on cruises, partying with mates and generally time-wasting so it would result in a net decrease in writing output! Counter-productive! So I do not know what these free verse types do with $40,000.

However I suggest that it is also Apathy towards Australian poetry on a larger and national scale that is killing real (bush/traditional/ballad) poetry.

From a bush poetry perspective IMO there is nothing inherently wrong with a Bush Poets Association being made up of a group of people intent on paddling their own canoe... but a large part of the killing of (real) poetry I feel is attributable to Apathy. Not pushing my own barrow but how many people took the time to even read my recent Senate submission which largely related to Bush Poetry.

It is easy to blame Free Verse but unless one is prepared to stand up and fight.. and I mean really FIGHT hard and tough... or if time prevents then fully support people who are prepared to fight this clique and win, then just as one gets the politicians one deserves, so it applies to poetry.

Then one's kids/grandkids will hear at school a three minute The Man From Snowy River recited by Leonard Teale and get to appreciate who Lawson, Paterson and Dennis are... and WHY they are famous and important people. Pretty basic Australian literature that is deliberately kept from them today (I am told).

Yes, Free Verse is killing real Australian poetry, but so is the apathy that allows it to happen... in my opinion.

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 10:23 am
by Neville Briggs
I'm afraid I find that it is more than faintly ludicrous to have a notion of poetry as some sort of culture war, with soldiers storming the ramparts to "fight". My Henry Lawson can beat your Ezra Pound !!!unfortunately dead people are not so effective at charging at the front line.

I think it would be impressive if our mate Gary could put a literary post on our site, so we can read an example of his own exquisite superior poetry work.
This could well be the irrefutable evidence, in his evidence based case, that he is more worthy of cash and celebrity than purveyors of junk.

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 11:21 am
by Maureen K Clifford
I suspect that division in the ranks would be what could kill poetry since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Why can't all genres of poetry be admired and respected? If we read something in free verse and we don't like it that's fine, the bloke sitting next to us might think it a bonzer piece - we all have our own perceptions as to what is and what isn't good poetry - we need to remove the blinkers and be a little more open perhaps. Rather than dwell on the negatives why not enhance the positives? A poem may be inherently bad but may have a nice turn of phrase - or an innovative usage of a word, or a quirky twist - there is good in everything.

Personally I enjoy writing all genres of poetry - whether they are particularly good, bad or indifferent I don't know nor do I particularly care because they succeed and resonate with different audiences. so someone, somewhere gets something from them and isn't that all we can ask?

I have always loved this poem - which by the way is one of Gary's so I hope he doesn't mind me sharing it here .. it resonates with me because I am tied up with Brumby rescue - it may not appeal to everyone but for me it ticked boxes
Gary Harding with the brumbies 234.jpg

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 11:24 am
by Gary Harding
Thanks Nev,
A literary post? A poem? haha I am afraid that it would not make the grade ... not even a 1 out of 10 so I must decline your invitation..

Yes.. I do see achieving a win for bush poetry for the public as like a military campaign. You plan a strategy.. how you intend to achieve it stepwise rather than go in with all guns in all directions.

OK. This is how I would do it.. and you may have other suggestions which would be great!!.

With Queensland coming up for an election soon, and most likely a change in government ... locate the shadow Minister for Education. Maybe even find a really good and dynamic local member to have a chat with too for starters and get advice, as a warm up.

Do the homework. Find out facts from teachers, curriculums etc. See what is taught in poetry.. teacher discretion... everything. Even have a chat with the Teachers Union for their thoughts.
Then have a Proposal to make which might be part of say a new Back To Basics Queensland education plan or government initiative.

Part of that includes an English curriculum that allows students to be exposed to the poetical work of Lawson, Paterson and Dennis. No need to push aside free verse.. just let the kids be free to make up their own minds equitably.

Then meet with the shadow Education Minister for a chat.. but have an agenda which benefits everyone. Get some committment of sorts and have it confirmed in writing. When they become Minister suddenly it is all by appointment only and the next 5 min slot is 3 months away etc. So do it now.

Accept concessions.. and help them...maybe it is trialled in country schools first... but get it started, make the results somehow measureable, make it a success and make sure the Minister get ALL the credit.
Then you have that vital toe-hold, that first win and you build on that.. let other states look on in envy!

"Queensland schools lead the world and encourage Australian literature. New Banjo Patersons are now emerging ." A credit to the Government's education initiative... Minister graciously acknowledges the part played by the ABPA in assisting in this successful initiative.

Then you go from there. Well you know what I mean... :) :)

Then Free Verse will not be killing Australian poetry.. or at least not so much hopefully.

Start small as a strategy but make the first foray a big win.

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 1:33 pm
by Terry
Enjoyed the article Warren.

I find it's interesting, that TV & Radio Commercials always seem to use rhyming poems or lyric's in their adverts - strange that, isn't it.
Young children's books seem to mostly do the same thing for some reason.


Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 1:42 pm
by Neville Briggs
Thanks Maureen. I think that verse of Gary's would go over well with the bush poets, but to challenge the contemporary poetic voice in the open literary scene, is a big call I fear.

After reading Manfred's reply above, I have to agree. Why challenge or conflict with anyone at all.
I think the challenge is to simply find a contemporary voice in whatever form we choose to work.

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 2:39 pm
by Vic Jefferies
I think that Gary, in stating his opinion that the current poetry scene is dominated by "free versers" who denigrate rhyming verse to the point that they ensure we and anyone who does not write or conform to their idea of poetry are excluded from the major publications and literary awards, raises very important issues.
It is not merely a matter of who writes the best form of poetry but also a matter of the trendy scribblers enforcing their views and attitudes to other people's detriment.
As always I think there is a large degree of the emperor's new clothes syndrome involved just as there is in so much of the artistic scene in general.
The facts speak for themselves modern free verse poetry does not sell and it does not sell because people don't like or understand the vast majority of it. It is killing poetry as far as the general public is concerned.
However, having said that (for the umpteenth time) it is up to us to improve our work and to continue to promote our brand of poetry wherever and whenever we can.
We need to produce a CJ Dennis who can write political and satirical verse or a Henry Lawson who can write on social issues and have their work published in local newspapers.
I don't have the official figures but I'd make a small wager that Lawson and Paterson are still our biggest poetry sellers each and every year and if I am right that should mean something!
As for free verse: there aint much left of a sausage once you skin and gut it and there aint much left of a poem once you take out the music, the rhyme and the rhythm...

Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Fri May 27, 2016 4:02 pm
by Terry
G/day Vic

That's the point I was making with my previous Post, The reason advertisers use a lot of rhymes is that they are targeting the average person - the general public, and as you rightly say, most of us don't have a clue about free verse but do still respond to rhyme, same with young children.

That said, I still believe poetry is a personal thing to be enjoyed in what ever form appeals to you.

A little less preaching about the merits or otherwise of various forms of poetry might be a more positive step.

The crudeness that is often mentioned is not only confined to Free Verse, it's also creeping more and more into Bush Poetry as well - sign of the times perhaps

By the way that's good poem Gary .


Re: Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

Posted: Tue May 31, 2016 6:09 pm
by Gary Harding
Thanks Terry and it was certainly a fun poem to write.

I was thrown off a horse once because it KNEW I didn't have a clue and so it took off. I reckon they are NOT dumb creatures.
Luckily I knew how to break the fall on hard ground so only got severe bruising. Horses and I have a love-hate relationship.

Vic that sums it up very well!!!

In the end, I guess does it really matter if PM's, Premiers and Vice Chancellors hand out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy votes or approval? The taxpayers certainly don't know or care and if anyone professing to be an ordinary citizen protests, well the defense is "We have Experts and you are a nobody" as actually happened to me!!

The Club at work.

Experts, the world is full of them!

Anyway I doubt if those important people understand what they are handing poetry money out for. Including the infamous PM incident. They should look more closely at how their name is used in the name of literature.

But as long as nobody looks too closely or rocks the boat (as I have) well... plenty more money where that came from.
Which is true.. there is! No problem.

I just feel sorry for our kids. From what I understand these stinkers are really infiltrating the education system with their free verse rot and excluding Paterson and Lawson. Shocking.
Money siphoning, and corruption you can never stop...I have actually seen it in his case! ... but kids??? they need to at least hear Clancy and The Man From Snowy River once in their lives... THAT is real education. If they prefer Mushroom Growing on the Moon after that, fair enough.. but I bet they won't.

.. which of course is why Paterson is deliberately excluded.