Saturday, February 8, 2014

Colin Herd

New Poem

Right, yes,
OK, I see where the confusion has arisen.
It's simple, really, a silly mistake in a way:
for whatever reason, or, yes, OK,
as you say, for obvious reasons,
you were expecting these poems to be new.
And you opened the book up and
they're not quite new enough. Not
as new as you were hoping. Quite. Another
way of putting it would be to say,
they are not as knew as you were led to believe. 
I wouldn't say they are not new at all,
as you've put it, I mean there is something new
about them. They're newer than my older work,
for example. So, I wouldn't go that far.

But no, you're quite right, that's plain.
They can't strictly speaking be new because
you've heard them read many times before.
At various places and for a period stretching
back at least 3 years.  

Some have even been in magazines!

I read one at Caesura I think
and at Syndicate, maybe, I don't
know. I just can't remember every poem
I have ever read. I get flustered for one thing
which is in a way part of my schtick and it
isn't all due to my anxiety that everyone's heard
everything before, as you are insinuating.
You're angry and hurt. You feel dismantled.
I can see that. It makes sense. No, you aren't being that
unreasonable. You open a book called "New Poems" and
you naturally, well, now, no, I'm not saying you made an assumption
in a negative way, but you jumped to a conclusion
and in this case, it didn't happen to be quite on the button.
It's no biggie. If I lead you to make that conclusion, I'm sorry.

One thing I should maybe point out  (and in my defence)
is that they have been altered somewhat since
their initial airings. Yes, fine, not substantially, no,
not that substantially. I said "somewhat", which implies
they have been fiddled with a little but not overhauled.
Indeed. Well, OK then, we'll settle on "revised".

I understand entirely what you’re saying. Ian Rankin
doesn't issue a "New Rebus Novel" by just altering or
switching a few words here and there. There'd be an outcry.
Quite right. Indeed.
Yes, well, I'm not particularly going to make it,
but as you brought it up, there would possibly be
an argument that the title is part of
the poem and therefore part of the suite of poems, so it's
ok to use language in a certain way that doesn't hold up
to closer scrutiny. As I say, I can imagine someone making
an argument like that and it does have a certain pull
to it but no, as you say, that's not quite what I'm getting

I agree. Poets should still be accountable for what they say
if it's offensive, but it can be done in such a way that
they are drawing attention to an offence or an issue
without necessarily perpetrating any offence themselves. 

For example: "I shot the sheriff".
It doesn't quite mean, "I shot the sheriff".
If you read that in a poem, you wouldn't go
running to the telephone box and dialling
me in to collect a reward, would you? Quite.

Similarly: “I commit fraud on a daily basis” or
“I’m the Queen of England and I am in a hurry”

So, equally, I call the book "New Poems"...
… it doesn't necessarily follow that all the poems would
 be new; or even any of them. It could be that
I'm getting at something,
something could be formulated around that idea and
capitalism maybe, the eager hunger for newness all the time
that we all feel in this empty aching way.

No, that wasn't necessarily in my mind,
but equally everything that is in a poem
to be got at by the reader is not necessarily
in the mind of the poet, is it?
So that idea or a trace of it is there,
in the title and the gap between what the
reader expects and what they end up getting.
That's certainly there, in a hollow sort of way. 

You ask what makes poetry different, now there's
a question. I mean I'm not going to start quoting Pound
at you, but OK, I know I did already, but there is a point there
with that "news that stays news" thing.

No, if you must know, and not that I think it makes
any difference to what I am saying but, you’re right,  I
didn't find that quote myself. I remembered it from Marjorie Perloff.
I recycled it, yes,
I admit that, off the cuff, I just used it. It seemed to fit.
It was handy, it presented itself to me and I used it.

But, indeed, if you see everything as one endless process
of revision, you could I suppose see poetry as, and it’s not as elegantly
put, well, after all, I’m freestyling now of sorts, but you
could in a way see poetry as something like “olds that stay new.”
Though maybe that would get confusing for fans of Sharon Olds,
the Pulitzer Prize winning poet. Probably none too advisable after all.  
Well, you're right, maybe they do need
something to get confused about, but I'm not going to be
the one to confuse them, and over such a trivial matter!

You know what, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.
Or, yes, we could agree to agree that you're right.
Fine, OK- these poems are
just the same old same old,
decrepit, really,  worthless, ready for the tip,
and anything but new. I'll accept
all of that, since you've backed me into
this corner. I'll accept all of that.
We'll pulp them all and change the title.

Now, wanna go and see the new Spiderman film?
No, not that one, the new one. With Andrew Garfield. 


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