Tag Archives: jazz

Can Books on Poetic Craft Turn you into a Poet?

A couple of days back, I fell into conversation with a jazz musician. We talked about jazz, his teaching of music and the jazz performance I had recently attended at my local pub. On me mentioning that I am a poet, my companion said that he had recently been given a copy of Stephen Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003V4AT1C/, and that he had just started to compose poetry.

I have not read Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled”, consequently I’m unable to comment on the book. I did, however say to my companion that whilst books on poetic craft may, in some instances, be helpful, its crucial to read as much poetry (of all kinds) as possible to enable the development of one’s own unique style. Such reading will bring one into contact with poetry which is not to your taste, however this is, nonetheless useful in honing the poets ability to compose verse.

I am not dismissing works on poetic craft. Indeed I have on my shelves “The Poet’s Voice and Craft”, which consists of a series of lectures by famous poets explaining how they go about writing poetry, and other aspects of poetic craft, (https://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9781857540208). Whilst I’d have no hesitation in recommending this book, in my opinion reading Keats, Housman, Blake, Larkin, Auden and a myriad other poets will prove of more benefit than pouring over numerous tomes on poetic craft.

Of course there is a danger that by reading other poets, we come to replicate them. One must always be wary of falling into the trap of (either consciously or unconsciously) trying to outWordsworth Wordsworth, or outBlake Blake, but by reading other poets and absorbing the poetic tradition, one learns, over time to develop one’s own unique voice.

I have been told that a number of my poems remind readers of Emily Dickinson, Larkin and a number of other poets. I have never (consciously) attempted to write in the style of any poet, but take such comments as compliments. We build on the poetic tradition. We can, of course augment it but, ultimately we are all part of the great cultural heritage that has gone before.

As ever, your comments are most welcome.


Ealing Jazz Festival 2015

On Saturday 1 August I attended the Ealing Jazz Festival (http://www.ealingsummerfestivals.com/events/jazz-festival/). Although jazz is not, in truth my favourite cup of tea, the music made for pleasant background listening and, most importantly the festival afforded me the opportunity to catch up with close friends. The beer drunk while sitting on the grass was, of course purely incidental to proceedings …!

Being blind I have always enjoyed employing my sense of touch to explore objects. I was pleased therefore to come across a stall selling carved wooden objects. I was particularly taken with a wooden stool with elephant carvings and fleetingly considered purchasing it. However I live in Crystal Pallace/Upper Norwood and the thought of conveying this beautiful object on the tube followed by the train caused me to reject the idea. I love hand carved objects as the craftsman imparts some of their essence. One can see or, in my case touch objects from centuries past and forge a connection with those who have gone before. The craftsman has long since departed but their essence remains solidified in wood.

One of the stalls which had a strong effect on me and those of my friends who accompanied me to it was Love146 (https://love146.org/), a charity which works to highlight and challenge child trafficking. The information on the organisation’s website makes for harrowing reading, particularly that pertaining to the exploitation of young children in brothels.

All in all I enjoyed my trip to the Ealing Jazz Festival and fell in to bed after midnight tired but content.