All the world’s a poem



Bus Stop
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about my new book (Off My Chest - poetry for people who don’t ‘do’ poetry) and he expressed surprise, not that I could write anything decent, but at the subjects I’d chosen to write a poem about. The state of our bus stops, checkouts at the supermarket, a lost coat. And that got me thinking, what is a proper subject for a poem? Was I a bit peculiar with my choice of subject? I decided to see what other (current) writers were writing about and found I was in good company. I can’t quote the poetry but here are a few titles I quickly came across. Conversations With a Leg – Felix Dennis, Cheeses of Nazareth – Simon Armitage, Cod’s Roe for a Crying Woman – Annie Freud and A Story About Chicken Soup by American, Pulitzer prize winner Louis Simpson.

I think the range of subjects is much wider now (as against 50 years ago), because life, and the average person’s experience of it is much wider. There are so many more things to enthuse about, or celebrate. And certainly a lot more things to moan or complain about.
And that’s what I think poetry should do – reflect modern life. Engage. It’s why so much more poetry is being written by people who sixty years ago wouldn’t have dreamt of writing poetry. And it’s why more and more people are reading poetry. Because it is talking to them about things they care about, in language they can understand.