Tag Archives: Should poets use swear words in their poetry

Should Poets Use Swear Words In Their Poetry?

In June 2017, I wrote a post entitled “Its My Blog and I’ll Swear If I Like”, https://newauthoronline.com/2017/06/27/its-my-blog-and-ill-swear-if-i-like/. In that article I argued that everyone has a right to run their blogs as they wish, including utilising swear words in posts. I also stated that swearing has a place in literature, for instance a gangster novel in which none of the characters swear would be wholly unbelievable.

I am, as pointed out in the above piece, no plaster saint myself and will on occasions swear in my personal life. However this is a rarity and when I swear it is, almost always under my breath and its not something of which I am proud.

I was reminded of my 2017 post by this article on the blog of the poet Giles L. Turnbull, http://gilesturnbullpoet.com/2018/04/01/i-swear-that-be-poetry/, in which he discusses the use of swearing in poetry. The article makes for interesting reading but utilises several four letter words, consequently anyone who would find this offensive may wish to avoid clicking on the above link.

As Giles points out, Shakespeare and Larkin (amongst others) employ swear words, for example Larkin’s “This Be The Verse” is famous (infamous)? For beginning with “They f . . k you up your mum and dad, they may not mean to, but they do”, and (in the case of Philip Larkin) the use of the “f” word is wholly justified (there would not be a meaningful poem where he to have written “they mess you up your mum and dad”. However I remain of the view that the sprinkling of poetry (or any other writing) with expletives for no reason other than shock value serves no useful purpose and I personally find such utilisation offensive.

Kevin