wearing motley

Sarah Sloat hits a Nic nerve with this blog post.

Yes. You SO have to watch out for pinched people. And not be influenced by them. Red and orange? Neverr! some conventional voice said to me whenever it was ages ago and from then on I never thought of them together, much less ever put them together. Until who knows why one day I suddenly said !screw that! and I only had to do it once and now it’s just me in the world all over – red and orange, RED AND ORANGE. Some pinched person on a listserv said not so long ago – NATURE?! why are people writing about fields and mountains when people are DYING in URBAN HELLS everywhere?! And I went gulp emotionally and began second-guessing my whole poetry landscape (which is, quite simply, cluttered with trees and mountains and owls and bats and NATURE), but not for long, only till I remembered red-and-orange, RED and ORANGE, and stopped gulping and went on my wicked motley-wearing way, rejoicing. You really have to watch out for pinched people.

11 thoughts on “wearing motley

  1. Dave Bonta says:

    Amen! (And may I ask, why is it so important to chronicle the sufferings of members of the most numerous megafaunal species on the planet when thousands of other species are GOING EXTINCT due to its cancerous spread over the planet? WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?)

  2. Jim Murdoch says:

    There are enough of us writing to ensure that all the dying people and all the red-and-orange things get written about. It’s easy to say what someone else should be writing about. I made a comment earlier today about this very issue:

    I am glad I’m not gay. I’m also glad I’m not Jewish. Or a woman. Or black. And my heart goes out to all the black-Jewish-lesbians out there. They must really struggle with their identity. I’ve just written a review of a book by Anita Brookner. The thing is, she was Jewish and the novel I read was about a Jewish family whose history overlaps World War II and two words are never mentioned in the book: ‘Jew’ or ‘Holocaust’. To be fair ‘World War’ is never mentioned either. As I researched her I was struck by how much schtick she got because she rarely highlights Jewish issues. I remember Beckett being similarly criticised for not being a more political writer as if because he was an Irishman he ought to be automatically was obsessed with politics. I’m a Scottish writer and yet you’d hardly know it. And, of course, you’re gay. Which means you can’t just be a writer or an artist or a composer, you have to be a gay writer, a gay artist or a gay composer. That must be a bit of a burden I would have thought. I’m a little irritated when I learn about some label that people want to stick on someone. Suddenly a great work of art is argued only to exist because that artist was a [whatever] and that it is an expression of their [whateverness] as if every Jew is only unhappy because there was a Holocaust. It’s stupid.

    People should write to their strengths. We need nature poetry, we need political poetry and all kinds of poetry but most of all we need people to write the best poetry they’re capable of, not what they think they ought to be writing.

  3. Christine says:

    This. This is why I said screw it and wrote about ballroom dancing and love this month.

  4. I say poets should write what ever they want, despite current “trends” or “moods.” A good poem, no matter the subject, will find an audience.

  5. Shelley says:

    “Pinched”? Is that an Englishism?

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