I’ve never really been one for ever-so-clever, arty-farty, elitist poetry from the ranks of the idle rich who, let’s face it, had more money than sense, and were able to indulge their poetic muse rather than dirty their hands actually doing something called manual labour.
Although I respect everyone’s right to artistic endeavour, the chip on my broad working class shoulder won’t let me forget that ‘true art’ comes from suffering. Take ‘the blues’ for example, yea, indeed the Jews, for example, “By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, yea, we wept, wen we remembered Zion.”
No…forget Boney M, rather imagine bony skeletal Israelite (Jewish) slaves, worked to the bone by their cruel task masters, literally whipping them into shape, as mere chattels of a more powerful ruler. Concerning the black African Americans who were treated as sub-human commodities on many a plantation, paid nothing, mostly, fed very little and again…worked to the bone.
You can understand words of pain and agony spilling from their mouths as they sang and chanted those drawn and thrawn rhythmic words of protest that their white slave masters didn’t understand nor care about. Indeed what is there to sing or write about when you’re quids in and well fed.
It’s only when the chips are down and you are going through that dark tunnel, the dark night of your soul, can you reach deep inside and from your very bowels and innards and draw out a raw mass of emotion: hurt, want, need, lack, privation, pain, exhaustion, no self esteem, sickness, unrequited love, anger and bile et al.
The wealthy could only write such things as wondering lonely as a cloud etc. Nature poems are fine, but say absolutley nothing of the human condition. Only hardship can draw it out of us. When we have been forged in the fires of adversity, been ‘through the mill’ suffered loss in some way, only then can we have anything of merit to say. The rest is just tish tosh. The literary equivalent of a big Mac.
I remember the eighties in Britain, the privations of the working classes under the government of Margaret Thatcher. I saw the pain she caused and the destruction she left in her wake when stepping down, after ravaging the country and splitting up communities, throwing people on the scrap heap, selling out our manufacturing industry.
The many workers clashing with strike breaking police who were ill used as military pawns. While families went hungry through lack of money and food, Thatcher and her ilk, continued to enjoy material benefits. These are the things worth writing about.
The poet must follow his muse but I believe also, follow his conscience too. I wrote about a true situation involving a young Muslim guy who came to Scotland, to Glasgow at the height of the so called alleged ‘terrorist’ threat that Bush and Blair et al were so wont to continually warn us of. The young guy’s home was raided one night and everything taken away for forensic examination.
Meanwhile, his Scottish, heavily pregnant wife was pushed down onto her bed by laser rifle toting armed police???
He, was taken away to Dungavel prison Camp. What became of him I know not, but it is this ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ that we must capture on paper, for the sake of posterity.
So, let’s forget wandering lonely as clouds and all that upper class twaddle, let’s get real and write with power and conviction. Tolstoy himself met regularly with other writers and poets who believed that ‘the pen was indeed mightier than the sword.’ Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns did likewise as did many other writers, poets, painters and musicians who felt a need to unburden their souls and tell the unvarnished truth.
I love nature and observing things of interest, but my main drive as a poet, must always be the human condition, for on paper at least, I can pronounce, tell forth, empathise and comment and hope that my words will find an audience in other kindred souls.
PS, I am writing my new french poetry book ‘The Angry Pen’ and also working on a poetry book of remembrances called Compendium. I’ll post some on here soon. Jed Stone.