Tuesday, 6 May 2014


from Preston Poets' Newsletter


A tentative glimpse of Spring so welcome to this quarter’s Newsletter with the hope that there will be sufficient poetry and poetry events to keep everyone happy.

Linda France will certainly be happy. She is the winner of the 2013 National Poetry Competition with her poem entitled Bernard and Corinthe. It is the account of an erotic encounter between a repressed man and a flower. The first two verses:

if a curtain is always a velvet curtain
onto some peepshow he never opens,

it’s a shock to find himself, sheltering
from the storm in a greenhouse.

The reason for mentioning this is not the actual poem. Some people have criticized it, others like it, mostly ( as far as I can find ) people don’t seem to care one way or the other.

What I am concerned about is the subject matter. For the last few years the National Poetry Prize has been won with poems about Clothes from the Great War, Virginia Woolf, a Robin, something about time past, a father, something about looking through a window.

This is the National Poetry Prize. Presumably this means that this is how the state of British poetry is seen as viewed from the rest of the world and somewhere there’s a quote suggesting that poetry reflects the underlying state of a nation. I just can’t find that quote, if anyone knows it could they let me know.

So, on an earth that has Climate Change, Peak Oil, water shortage, food shortage, wars, the list goes on, the concerns of British poetry revolve around flowers and Robins.

Perhaps I should put some parameters on that paragraph. There are poets who write about such global matters but they are not those being taken up by what can be termed the Poetry Establishment. I’m not talking about the really top poets like Carol Anne Duffy or Simon Armitage but the ones below that level who have been to the same Universities and share the same beliefs in terms of poetical values and also control the purse strings and access to the publishing houses.

Did I enter the National Poetry Competition? Yes. Is this sour grapes? Maybe. Is there any truth in these thoughts? I think so, how about you.

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