Friday, 5 August 2016

A Life in the Day of Everyman

Two readers have been in touch to pose questions I am often asked. Q1 Why do I write poetry, and why so little blank verse when everyone knows rhyme is old hat, especially as the media ignores me for the most part so I’m not even famous? Q2. Why spoil a good poetry site by including gay poetry? [Thank you for the praise element there.]

Well, fame isn’t everything, nor is blank verse, and I do have a reputation of sorts around the world if feedback from my blogs and other Internet sites is anything to go by. The most important thing to me is that there are people out there who read what I write; whether or not they like what I write is less important than it may give them food for thought. [Even not liking something demands we ask ourselves, why?] As for including gay-interest poems, as I do in all my collections…why not? I am a gay man and a poem is a poem is a poem. I have received emails from heterosexual readers to say it has helped them think differently (better) about gay people and from gay readers thanking me for my inclusiveness. Opinions will always be divided; such is the nature of food for thought.

Poetry is a passion with me. Prior to university, I wrote many poems; less so for some time afterwards. Reading and writing critical essays about great poets was very enjoyable, but also very daunting. How could I possibly follow in the footsteps of the likes of Wordsworth, Shelley, Blake, Hardy and so many more? It took a while for the penny to drop. I could not hope to follow in their footsteps nor should I even try. No, I must create footprints of my own. It would not matter if few people found them worth following so long as they were there, to be chanced upon; hopefully, of some worth to someone somewhere at some time or another finding their way in life (and losing it now and then) as I have done. Reading great writers has helped me become a positive thinker; no mean feat considering the inferiority complex that dogged me at home, school and young manhood.

I have only ever been in love once in my whole life, but love takes various forms and I have loved many people in various ways. Take friendship, a form of love at all its various levels, and probably the most commonly open to abuse. Sometimes love is returned; often, though, it is abused. Nor am I referring to physical but to psychological abuse; people taking advantage of love, taking it (and us) for granted, always taking, taking, taking… with little or no thought about what it means to give. It can hurt, really hurt. For me, poetry has always helped ease that hurt. 

Yes, poetry is my passion, a love that returns far more than I can ever give. Especially as I grow old, the passion continues to course through my veins and remind me of all that is beautiful in this sorry world, in nature and human nature; more than a match for cynic or pessimist, and music to the ears of a positive thinker so long as he or she remembers to listen out with inner ear, see with inner eye, feel a way through bad times to better.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all poets in the sense that poetry is the very act of living; how we chose to define it - and ourselves - is down to each and every one of us, each in our own way, not least in poetry, bearing in mind how there is a poetry of sorts in everything we are, do, regret, aspire to....

Does that answer the questions?

This poem is a villanelle.


Who seeks out poetry, seeks love,
always listening out for its call
in nest or flight, wings of a dove

Between earth and heavens above,
as human passions rise and fall.
who seeks out poetry, seeks love 

Find nature’s finest, hand in glove
with Man’s first aim, survival;
in nest or flight, wings of a dove

Where a trophy hunter may prove 
a keen eye for kill potential,
who seeks out poetry, seeks love

Let it be, feel a mountains move,
its centuries-old dreams fulfil;
in nest or flight, wings of a dove

Grown cold, a hand out of its glove
like prose to reason’s overspill;
who seeks out poetry, seeks love,
in nest or flight, wings of a dove

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008; slightly rev. 2016

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