Tag Archives: culture

One Must Separate the Creator From His Creation

My friend, Brian drew this recent article in the Telegraph to my attention https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/05/22/hot-handel-royal-academy-music-could-dump-artefacts-composer/.

In “Too Hot to Handel”, the Telegraph reports that the Royal Academy of Music is considering disposing of artifacts associated with the composer, due to Handel having invested in the slave trade. It also mentions that Mozart is being reviewed due to his father Leopold having been hosted by those involved in the slave trade during his visit to England.

I have always been of the view that one should consider a work of art (whether music, literature or painting) on it’s own merits. It matters not whether the author was a person of virtue or a disreputable reprobate. If there artistic creation is sublime, then that is what it is.

Slavery was (and remains) an abhorrent practice. However to state this fact is irrelevant when considering the value of Handel (or any other creative person’s work). Of course one may pause when listening to the Messiah and ponder on how a man who could produce such sublime music could have profited from human misery. But, in the end beautiful music remains beautiful music.

One must also view Handel in the context of his time. Many people participated in slavery either as investors or as sailors who brought human cargoes from Africa. It was (and remains) an abominable trade, but whilst condemning past men may give us a feeling of moral superiority, it does not aid our understanding of Handel’s work.

One of my favourite poets (probably my favourite), is Ernest Christopher Dowson. He lived a decadent life and died at the age of 32. During his career he spent much time in the arms of prostitutes and this contributed to some of his most moving verse, including Cynara, https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/mar/14/non-sum-qualis-cynarae-dowson.

I have no interest in what consenting adults choose to do in private, and this view extends to those who consort with the world’s oldest profession. However, even if one holds that those who patronise prostitutes (as Dowson did) are immoral persons who exploit the vulnerable, it is important to judge the worth of an artistic creation on it’s own merits and (so far as is humanly possible) to separate the creator from his creation.

As always I would be interested in the views of my readers.

Should Poets Write to be Understood?

Recently, an acquaintance related how her father had given her, and other members of his family a book of poetry he had written. The result? None of the recipients of his gift understood his work.

My acquaintance argues that poets ought to compose poetry their readers are able to comprehend, rather than using obscure metaphors and references to mythology which comparatively few people can understand.

Whilst I agree that poets should not be deliberately obscure, I am of the view that the first duty of a poet is to be true to themselves. It is, undoubtedly odd for poets to deliberately compose obscure poetry (and I am sceptical that many do so). However the fact that a poem or series of poems is difficult to interpret does not imply that the poet deliberately made them so.

One can not converse with the dead. But where one to have this privilege, and where one to be able to ask T. S. Eliot about The Wasteland (which many struggle to interpret), he would, I suspect say that his readers should make an effort to understand his poetry, and that he had to write the poem as he did.

I have not met the father of my acquaintance. But I am in no doubt that he put his heart and soul into his work, and that I for one would feel impertinent where I to say “sir, I don’t understand your work, you should have made it mor comprehensible”.

Seemingly simple poems can be open to interpretation. In my Selected Poems is one entitled Raining. I awoke one morning and, hearing the rain was reminded of mortality. I will die but the rain will continue as it always has.

A reader interpreted the reference to rain as implying sadness and, in particular tears. In fact I love the rain and my poem flowed from a feeling of contentment on my part. We all die but there is continuity and beauty in the eternal rain, and the knowledge of this fills me with joy rather than sorrow.

Ultimately poets must remain true to themselves and not sacrifice their art merely to bough down to the lowest common denominator. I hope that people understand what I write, but I will not change the manner in which I compose my poetry to enhance the understanding of my readers.

As always, I would welcome comments.

Insanity

“Poet laureate Amanda Gorman stole the show at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration on January 20 when she read her powerful poem, The Hill We Climb. Now, it’s being translated into a number of foreign languages — and not without controversy.
Last Friday, Marieke Lucas Rijnveld, the writer chosen to translate Gorman’s work into Dutch, declined to take on the assignment following criticism that she was not Black.” https://www.dw.com/en/amanda-gormans-dutch-translator-steps-down/a-56754197

The world grows ever more insane!

The Joys of Legal Deposit

Please note, the below post will be of particular interest to those authors who publish in the United Kingdom.

Last week, I received an email from The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries which begins,

ALDL Logo

“Dear Publisher,

On behalf of the Legal Deposit Libraries, these being the Bodleian Library Oxford University, The Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales and Trinity College Dublin and in accordance with the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 or the Irish Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, as appropriate, …”.

The email then goes on to request that I send 5 copies of “The Selected Poems of K Morris”, to the Agency for Legal Deposit, who will forward them on to the above named libraries.

Under the relevant UK legislation, a copy should also be sent to the British Library. However I had already provided my “Selected Poems” to the British Library shortly following it’s publication in August 2019, hence I am not required to resubmit my work to the BL.

I must confess to not having any (print) copies of my “Selected Poems” in stock (other than my own personal copy). I will, therefore need to order 5 copies from Amazon to comply with the above request. Being familiar with the regulations concerning Legal Deposit I ought, of course to have ensured that I kept 5 copies to one side in order to comply with the legislation and it is a lesson to me to do so in future!

Amazon operates a print on demand (POD) model, consequently it will be easy to re-order the requisite number of copies. I do, however wish that I had thought ahead and kept 5 copies aside!

(To read more about Legal Deposit please visit this link, https://www.legaldeposit.org.uk/.

The paperback edition of my “Selected Poems” can be found here, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Poems-K-Morris/dp/1688049800/

 

My Poem “England On The Eve Of World War I” included in “World Poetry Peaceathon Anthology”

I am delighted to announce that my poem “England On The Eve of World War I”, has been included in “WORLD POETRY PEACEATHON : WORLD POETRY ANTHOLOGY”. Many thanks to Ariadne Sawyer and all those involved in Vancouver Co-Op Radio’s The World Poetry Reading Series.

To read a sample, or to purchase the book, please visit this link, https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08FZWKY94.

Meaning Is In The Eye Of The Reader

In response to a comment by me on her post entitled “The infinity of Destinies”, Veronica comments as follows:

“If I told you my own vision, the mystery would be gone, don’t you agree?”. (see https://thewavesofpoetry.com/2020/07/12/the-infinity-of-destinies-dedicated-to-e/).

As a poet, I do indeed agree with Veronica. Every reader puts his or her own interpretation upon a poem or any other piece of writing. What the creator of art intended is, frequently not what the reader, the viewer of the painting Etc, interprets. And herein resides the joy and beauty of artistic creation.

In my poem “Raining”, I describe awaking to the sound of “rain drumming on my window pane”. On reading “Raining”, a friend’s teenage son commented that he thought the rain was “crying”. This is not something which I (the poet) had ever considered when penning the poem. I can, however understand why my friend’s son interprets “Raining” as he does, and I certainly do not dismiss his interpretation of the poem.

The truth of the matter is this. Once a poem, short story, novel or any other artistic creation is made available to the public, those exposed to it will, inevitably put their own interpretation upon that creation. And they have every right to do so. This is part of the joy of creativity – that it provokes differing interpretations.

As always, I would be interested in the views of my readers.

Kevin

Mopping Up

Earlier today, I recorded my poem “The Man with the Mop”:

(“The Man with the Mop” can be found in my “Selected Poems”, which is available on Amazon, and can be found here, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07WW8WXPP/ (for the UK), and here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/.)

Writers and Free Speech

In “A Letter On Justice And Open Debate” https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/, the authors JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood (amongst many other authors and academics), speak out against what they label as “cancel culture”. They condemn the growing tendency to silence (or attempt to silence) those who express opinions which offend particular groups or individuals. And argue that the best way to deal with views with which one disagrees is by engaging in free and open debate, rather than attempting to silence those expressing such opinions.

The letter has provoked controversy. Take, for example this response from a WordPress blogger:

“there is no such thing as cancel culture. This is fans deciding they do not want to associate with sexist, racist, ableist, bigoted authors/artists/what have you, and deciding to not purchase future works from them.

It is also not censorship because the government is not coming in and forcing these authors to remove their books from store shelves or anything like that. Fans are simply refusing to support these artists anymore. Publishers have that same right. So do booksellers.” (see https://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/cancel-culture/).

Whilst the blogger is correct that the government is not forcing anyone to stop stocking, publishing or buying books and/or expressing certain opinions, the fact that some authors are, for example removing their books from JK Rowling’s publisher is intended to put pressure on said publisher to stop publishing Rowling’s works. The publisher has (quite rightly) not bowed to such pressure. However, where they to do so, this could have the effect of depriving Rowling (or anyone else who expresses a controversial opinion) of their source of income. Sure someone as famous as JK Rowling would, in all probability find another publisher, but what about lesser known writers? In the latter case such people might well be deprived of their source of income. Depriving someone of their (legal) source of income is a big thing to have on one’s conscience is it not?

I do, of course defend the right of people to spend their income as they wish, and withdraw their books from particular publishers, for we live in a free society. However, actively calling for others to boycott the works of particular people (merely because one disagrees with something they have said) can very easily spill over into bullying. Society (or a section of it) does not possess the power to censor and/or ban opinions. It can, however create a climate in which authors (and others) fear opening their mouths in case they offend a particular group or individual. This is a very unhealthy state of affairs.

I have been told by one particular blogger (via a comment on their blog) to “educate myself”, as I expressed an opinion with which they took issue. My readers wont be surprised to learn that my response (had I voiced it, which I did not) would have been unprintable! The blogger in question was, of course perfectly entitled to their opinion (as am I). however telling people to “educate themselves” is not the best way to gain friends and influence people. Such statements come across as arrogant and are not the best way of encouraging free and open debate.

An acquaintence told me that he was thinking of writing a book on HIV/AIDS. The main character in his novel would be gay and HIV positive. However, my acquaintence (not himself being gay) was worried that where he to write his novel he would be castigated for writing about a subject of which he has no (direct) personal experience. Consequently that book will, in all probability never get written.

Of course when one writes or speaks about a subject about which one has no direct experience, one should be sure to do research prior to doing so. However, if someone wants to make a fool of themselves by writing a poorly researched book, or speaking on a subject with little knowledge of said subject, they have the right so to do. Of course we the reader/listner have the perfect right to point out their errors. Indeed it may be our duty to do so. But what neither the state nor society should do is to call for poorly researched books to be banned. Nor should either the state or society prevent people from expressing offensive opinions.

The advocacy of violence to achieve political or other ends is a criminal matter and anyone advocating it’s use should feel the full force of the law. However disagreeing with someone is not violence and its dangerous when people contend that the expression of measured opinion constitutes violence. As someone who is disabled (I am registered blind) I would be offended where someone to say that disabled people have no right to be employed, and that all anti-discrimination legislation should be repealed, leaving it to the discretion of employers whether to employ the disabled. However me finding this view particularly objectionable does not mean that the person expressing it has committed an act of violence. They have not. They have expressed an opinion which, in a democratic society they are perfectly entitled to do, and the best way of me dealing with their perspective is to argue against it. I may feel angry but the person has done no violence to me and I should not hound them on social media, nor should I call for them to be deprived of their source of income.

We live in a liberal society and long may we continue to do so.

I Started Early – Took My Dog, by Emily Dickinson

I have recently subscribed to the Poetry Foundation’s Audio Poem of the Day. The poem for Monday 6 July is Emily Dickinson’s “I Started Early – Took My Dog”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/75386/i-started-early-took-my-dog-656.

To me, Dickinson’s poem is full of erotic imagery:

“But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Boddice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Opon a Dandelion’s Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know –
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –”.

The above could be read as a description of the sexual act. In particular the poem’s ending, “the sea withdrew” does, I think need no further comment from me.

Dickinson was a deeply religious lady. Yet religion and the erotic are not mutually exclusive. But perhaps my interpretation is wrong, and the poem is what it says it is, a description of a woman’s trip (real or imagined) to the sea, and how the tide nearly overwhelmed her.

I would, as always be interested in the views of my readers.

My Poem “An Autumn Bird” Included on Dodo Modern Vidpoets

I was pleased to have my poem “An Autumn Bird”, included on Dodo Modern Vidpoets, (please see http://dodovidpoets.blogspot.com/2020/05/blog-post.html).

“An Autumn Bird” is poem 13, and can be found under the heading of Poems on the Page.

Kevin