The third annual HappenStance Story pamphlet arrived today. It’s free to HappenStance subscribers (do consider subscribing or buying a HappenStance publication – mine has sold out, so I say this without any personal hope of gain) and, as ever, looks like highly engaging stuff. The final page contrasts the desire to write poetry and the desire to be a poet. The first of those is a laudable ambition, although it takes plenty of work and reading (and perhaps a degree of luck) for anything memorable to emerge. As Helena Nelson puts it, with just a touch of ironic humour:
“Sometimes, I want to ask the people who don’t write poetry, what’s wrong. Everyone’s doing it these days, it seems. Why aren’t they?”
But not everyone is reading poetry, developing knowledge of poetry, or buying poetry. Just like those who pin all their hopes on winning the X Factor or American Idol, there’s a sense that being a poet, being someone, is more important than poetry itself. The article finishes on a sobering question – whether it would be preferable to have your name and poetic achievement remembered by posterity, or to have lines you’ve written recalled with appreciation, without recollection of who wrote them.