Welcome to National Poetry Month day twenty-six. Today I am very honored to have Twitter friend, fellow WordPress blogger, author and poet B.G. Bowers. In fact I asked Bianca first if she was interested in doing a post. If she had said no, I probably wouldn’t have taken on the endeavor. So much thanks go to her for the great experience this has been! Below are her insightful thoughts on poetry and publishing and three of her moving poems from her new book. After reading check her website for her contribution to National Poetry Month with guest bloggers on the topic of “Poetry Belongs to Everyone”. Enjoy!
Thank you, Sonya, for inviting me to participate in National Poetry Month.
Sonya shared an interesting perspective on poetry as guest author on my blog for NPM. She used a story to illustrate how poetry is often judged as good or bad, and at the end of her story she offered one of her own, earlier, poems “with no apologies”.
I have to say that I admire Sonya for her ‘no apologies’ stance, because we poets have this sub-conscious notion that, as a rule of thumb, poetry does not sell, and, any poetry that does see the light of traditional publication is reserved for academics and/or elitists.
While I currently don’t agree that the best poetry is traditionally published, I admit that I imposed that dogma on myself for decades and remained a poet-in-hiding as a result.
Let me explain…
I have been writing poetry since my teens, but only shared it publicly when I started my blog in May last year. I had no idea whether my closely-guarded words were capable of resonating with anyone other than me, but for the first time in decades, the courage to try outweighed my fear of failure.
Nearly 12 months on, I’m so grateful that I did come out of hiding and find the courage to try. One of the first poems I shared, Loved and Lost, was such a simple poem. Simple in both its length and message, but for some reason it struck a chord with a large audience and I enjoyed numerous reblogs and followers as a result. The reason I tell you this story is because I would never consider submitting that poem for publication, and I know that poetry elitists and academics would likely dismiss it as a ‘bad poem’. Yet, it begs the questions:
- What yardstick do we use to judge good poetry over bad?
- Should we be judging it at all?
I’m inclined to say no, we shouldn’t judge it. At the end of the day, different readers appreciate different genres, writing styles, levels of difficulty etc. What is gold for academia may be plastic to everyday readers, but neither have the right to be judged one way or another.
Furthermore, what is more important – impressing a publisher or resonating with an audience?
Sharing Loved and Lost and witnessing the effect it had on complete strangers illustrated the importance of resonating with an audience versus impressing a publisher, and 10 months later, I’m proud of my first self-published poetry book (even if academia and traditional publishers judge me otherwise).
I believe that Poetry has a place on every bookshelf, and I urge all the poets-in-hiding to forget about what you think is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ poetry and please, find the courage to try.
The sheer number of poetry blogs and readers of poetry blogs tells me that there is certainly an audience and readership for poetry; an audience with different appetites for different types of poetry.
With the rise of self-publishing, events like National Poetry Month, and supportive readers like yourselves, maybe, just maybe, Poetry might very well reach more bookshelves in the future.
I leave you with 3 poems:
- Loved and Lost, a 20 year old poem about unrequited love
- Merlot Heart, a recent poem about love
- Death Star, a revised poem about the fear of failure, and, how that fear kills our dreams if we never have the courage to try.
Loved and Lost
I have tried so hard
I have given so much
bared my soul
and exposed my heart
You have manipulated
You have been devilishly cruel
I have loved and lost
You have merely lost
My merlot heart. Seduced.
By mythic tales of thousand year old sun-worshippers.
Gazed directly into that fiery star
– too long –
Traded moon boots for gravity
the surface gloss of decades,
belies the grain
of light years below.
My merlot heart,
once pulsing to a haunting melody,
now labours to a tired tune.
Unable to recreate the elation of that moonwalk.
beyond the space between dreams
and that black hole
of indelible memory.
My merlot heart,
bleeding its colour
in a disappearing world,
where the sun is but a star,
and the moon a whole planet.
A galaxy dwells inside us
stars of prospects and possibilities beckon
unimaginable adventure awaits
yet lulled by the security of gravity
immobilised by the death star
borderless horizons beckon our intent
but the death star looms in our imagined universe
exploration limits are not decided,
they levitate at our beck and call
the death star reigns without sovereignty
gravity keeps us earth-bound
while our destiny floats in space
resistance fuels the death star’s power
where meteor showers are commonplace
and shooting stars are improbable as unicorns
© 2014 B.G. Bowers, from Death and Life .
About the Author
B.G. Bowers was born in South Africa and left at age 23 with nothing but a suitcase. She has since lived in New Zealand, United Kingdom and Australia. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree, with double majors in Film/TV/Media Studies and English. Her poems have been published in America and New Zealand, and you can find her at bgbowers.com