Today I went to the second day of the Middlesex University Literature Festival. It was wonderful to see a panel of three very different poets (Laura Dockrill, Lizzy Dijeh and Clive Bush), but disappointing that so few students or members of the public attended. Perhaps that says a lot about poetry's reputation. Poetry seems to be a dirty word. By now I should have a good retort for the statement 'it went right over my head'. But how can I when I often felt the same way and used it as an excuse not to reread or think about what I'd read.
All three poets drew on emotional reactions to produce their work. Poetry is intense and emotional and perhaps we are scared of that. The times we can't avoid emotions are when we are dealing with love or death. Perhaps that's why weddings, courtships and funerals are times when poetry is allowed to rear its head.
What's fabulous about Laura Dockrill is that she is a great performer and really engages with her audience. She visits schools and takes poetry to children- I'm sure they are captivated by her.
Clive Bush spoke about what a difference one person can make in many lives by sharing their passion for poetry or music. Doing this can open a door to different world. His anger at how poetry is taught at schools was unmistakeable. I think he felt the door was firmly shut.
Lizzy, born in Britain with Nigerian parents told us how she takes the reader to another very different country but holds on to them by dealing with universal subjects such as family.
I felt alive talking about poetry but also aware that I have a long way to go. I have finally accepted that there are no short cuts, that poetry is a craft and I must put the hours in to get the poems I know are waiting.