Birth of a Form – The RadioPoem and the limitless regeneration of poetry.

Dave Lordan

The poets are in the vanguard of a changed conception of Being.  Martin Heidegger

Poetry is a strange thing which operates as nothing else in the world does. Mark Yakich

What’s Poetry? Sorry – That’s a trade secret. Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Perhaps the most attractive thing about poetry to the creative is its radical indefinability. This opens the endlessly expandable space of Poetry to new generations of poets who have new desires to fulfil and new skills to apply to creatively regenerating poetry.

The liberating implication of ‘Poetry’ meaning so many often contradictory things to so many people in so many timeplaces is that perhaps Poetry can be made in an infinite number of ways – depending on the genius, i.e the will and capacity, of its creators.

There are of course rules and traditions for thousands of historically-arising and humanly-created forms of poetry – from Epic all the way down to Flarf. It would be a stupid poet who did not study and absorb the essences of as many past forms as possible. To not do so is to risk recording only your ignorance of your own art form every time you publish.

But there are no eternal laws of poetry.  Everything about poetry – how we make it, how we distribute it, how we receive it and culturally respond to it, how we institutionally organise it – is open to creative change. Everything about poetry is changing, always changing.

No definable limit can be put on what poetry can look like or sound like or feel like in future times.

We all hope poetry is not a basically exhausted discipline – a common argument for which there is much evidence if we are not careful to broaden our definition of Poetry beyond the post-romantic lyric. We all hope there is more to it than adding a new gloss to old tricks.

What if we were not at the end of the formal possibilities for Poetry, but at the beginning, or at one of  endless beginnings?

So many possibilities are opened to contemporary poets by technological advance – possibilities analogous in kind and far greater in degree to those opened up to past poets by the printing press.

Yet not many of today’s poets have the skill to make professional use of the new technologies and mediums in their poetry making. It’s hard enough being a writer, says you, without having to train as a sound designer or a programmer as well.

So much effort is put in by poets to self-promotion these days. Perhaps this is done at the cost of such ultimately – for the health of the discipline – necessary upskilling and cross-skilling.

A way out of the impasse is collaboration with creatives in other avant-garde disciplines such as sound art and radio art.

This freshly-minted collaboration, between radio-artist Bernard Clarke and poet Karl Parkinson of The Bogman’s Cannon sounds to me like the birth of New Form on just that collaborative, cross-discipline basis. This sounds to me like the birth of the RadioPoem

Put on headphones, lie down, and close your eyes is my advice.

You’ve never heard a baby like this before.

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