Eduardo.C Carol is a poet from New York; I came across an interview of his online where he talks on his own progress as a poet.
“I was writing tidbits of autobiography instead of poems. It took me years of practice to learn how to listen to language, to follow it not lead it.”
This led me to question the validity of where I am at as a poet who is writing mainly autobiographical prose poems. How much control do I have over my own poetic craft if I am driven by needing to resolve things personally. Furthermore, how do I assure that what I write is of interest and value to other people?
I came across this quote from the late Kurt Vonnegut, “write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia”. A poet doesn’t need to concern him or herself with mass appeal, as what poets offer as a kind of alternative to mainstream culture. But if my writing only appeals to other poets and writers I am neglecting the taste of those outside my aesthetic mentality, which is pretty much most of the world.
Gorge The Poet gave a brilliant interview in the Observer recently where he spoke on the social reasonability of rappers.
"Rappers have so much power to do good and they squander it, I want to tell them, I wish you knew you were like my big brother. I wish you knew I could have been in the best mood, but I wanted to have a fight directly after listening to your song."
In my opinion the poet in modern society is most effective as an educator, campaigner and entertainer; these are all roles that aim to influence culture. As a Spoken Word Artist, poetry and performance is a vehicle towards that which is something the late Lancashire poet, Graham Hough has written -
“The fact that poetry is not of the slightest economic or political importance, that it has no attachment to any of the powers that control the modern world, may set it free to do the only thing that in this age it can do – to keep some neglected part of the human experience alive until the weather changes; as in some unforeseeable way it may do”
This weather change could be a resistance against the current dominating celebrity culture; I’m not saying there isn’t a place for it but the machine is so huge and is responsible for deluding the minds of a lot of people (particularly the young and impressionable).
The neglected part of the human experience in the western world could be the part that is beyond materialist thinking. As well as educating, campaigning and entertaining I also feel the poets job is to uplift, it is to say I KNOW HOW TO CELEBRATE LIFE IN SPITE OF DEATH, WAR, HATRED, HEARTBREAK etc, so back to myself and how I write, I hope my poems like One Night At Zula Bar In Cape Town (published in my fist pamphlet) achieves a kind of universality so no one feels they’ve wasted time experiencing my poetry or life story or claim to fame... or whatever you call it.