An interesting and thought provoking article, https://engelsbergideas.com/essays/can-epic-poetry-revive-history/.
Tag Archives: culture
Should Writers Fear AI?
I recently posted about my experience of using Chat GPT to create poetry, https://kmorrispoet.com/2023/02/13/what-happened-when-i-entered-one-of-my-poems-into-chat-gpt/. In that post I discussed the results of entering my poem Midnight into Chat GPT and how the AI continued my poem (which was originally published several years ago).
This morning I came across this article, https://ai.plainenglish.io/writers-dont-fear-chatgpt-81e1128b11c1
, in which the author argues that writers should not fear AI. Whilst I am sure that Chat GPT (and other AIS) will improve over time, I agree with the author’s view of the matter.
Revolution and Evolution, the History of the Book
“In around 1440 AD, a goldsmith called Johannes Gutenberg began assembling the apparatus that would eventually become known as the first Western printing press. Thirty years later, this invention had transformed Europe, spiritually, economically and politically. In this episode of Worldview Adam Boulton is joined by Professor Alexander Lee and Professor Emma Smith to chart the history of the book, from its revolutionary beginnings to the present day.”
This is a fascinating podcast. Apart from the interesting historical background, I was struck by Professor Smith’s comment that a dictator could easily remove e-books from electronic devices whilst it is virtually impossible for a totalitarian regime to track down and destroy all copies of physical books they dislike.
I do see advantages to e-books. Indeed, as a visually impaired person who is not able to read print I take advantage of the text to speech facility on the Kindle app in my iPhone to have books read aloud. In addition, all of my titles are available as e-books. However, I also love the physicality of books and most of my titles are also available in paperback format.
“Advocates of ‘decolonising’ the English curriculum like to claim it will promote diversity and representation of ethnic minority authors. However, as this week’s guest Tomiwa Owolade argues, including writers based on ethnicity alone is patronising, reductive nonsense that has very little to with equality.”
The CapX Podcast: Tomiwa Owolade on culture, cancellation and ‘decolonising the curriculum’
This is a very interesting podcast. Tomiwa Owolade argues that diversity for its own sake (for example including ethnic minority authors merely because they come from an ethnic background), is patronising. Black and other authors from non-white backgrounds should be included in the curriculum purely on the basis of merit (not to enhance diversity for diversity’s sake).
Tomiwa Owolade also attacks “cancel culture”, arguing that many in the publishing world are fearful of defending authors such as J. K. Rowling due to concerns over their careers.
The podcast is well worth a listen.
The Lady of Shalott Got Caught Up in Virtual Reality
The Lady of Shalott got
Caught up in virtual reality.
And found not fun,
But the sheer banality
Of the living dead.
Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion Discusses the Poetry of Philip Larkin
A couple of days ago, I watched this video on Philip Larkin which I highly recommend.
In the video Andrew Motion, the UK’s former Poet Laureate (who was a close friend and biographer of Larkin) discusses the poet’s life and work.
I am a fan of Larkin’s poetry, particularly his poems Aubade
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.
“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,
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/