Should poetry be about something — other than itself? asks John Greening, considering some famous examples of works that have defied this question, as well as others which have dared to be topical, even at the risk of becoming irrelevant over time.
The connections between writing and digging – as explored in Seamus Heaney’s eponymous poem – weren’t obvious to Susan Fletcher, until she found herself working on an archeological dig in Northumberland, and discovered for herself that writing can be a kind of excavation.
Stridency, polemicism, ineffectiveness — political poetry is often criticised. Nicholas Murray, defending it, traces the grand tradition of political poetry in the British Isles, and asks if poets who are not political risk being trivial.
Poets have always looked inward. They have always been fascinated by transformation. Few, however, have considered how the act of writing poetry itself might change them. The poet John Greening looks within, and behind, and finds himself changed.
Poets love associations, says Gerry Cambridge. And the poetic connections he has made through his collection of vintage fountain pens have inspired and expressed a life of poetry.