I'd be interested to know people's opinions on contemporary poetry, especially those of you who rarely read it. Why do so few people read poetry (as opposed to writing it, which is still a popular activity)? Is because it's too much effort? Or because you don't know what to read? Or has what you've read been too abstract or boring? Or, alternatively, are you put off because the contemporary poetry you've read is too dumbed-down, too crowd-pleasing?
I really aim to write poetry that attracts people who normally don't read it. I think poetry offers something that no other art form can offer. At its best, it takes a sideways, unconventional look at the world, and it speaks into the heart of human experience (even if a poem itself isn’t drawn from direct experience at all). At its best, poetry can’t be mistaken for prose, even if it seems ‘like prose’.
But equally, I'd like to write poems that people want to read without sacrificing complexity, as human life is complex. What I write isn't obscure, but I guess it wouldn't be considered simple either.
I was listening to the talented Luke Wright. He is reaching out to new audiences, but my style isn’t anything like his, and never could be. However, imaginative live readings in interesting venues might be one way to go. On the other hand, I read an article in PN Review recently, which argued strongly that live readings were all part of a poet-as-product ethos, and should have nothing to do with the art of poetry.
Is there some middle-ground between the commercial popularising of poetry and the wilful obscurity demanded of ‘high art’? Surely, like the best alternative rock/pop bands, there must be ways of gaining attention for one’s art without compromising its creative centre?