It is unfortunate that the poetry scene has been tarnished by recent, highly publicized instances of plagiarism, yet the revelations of the despicable practice should not surprise poets. There are too many poetry competitions awarding too much money to the winners. Fame, it seems can come too easily by way of social media. Facebook seems to have created a new phenomenon, the instant poet, whose ‘work’ often seems to have incubated overnight with little attention having been paid to the craft of writing, before it is thrust upon a tired public.
Of course the Irish poetry world is clique ridden and exclusionist and has been so for too many decades, yet this very Irish trait should inspire, rather than deter poets. Maybe not enough of us are asking, for whom do we write? If the answer is for awards, or fame, or, God help us, for publication in Poetry Ireland, maybe we should be writing jingles for Tayto crisps or Milk Tray chocolate. The notion of writing for a so-called ‘public’ is sad, in any case. The number of people who actually read poetry can be numbered in the low hundreds and of those the numbers who try to understand it can be slashed by multiples. Someone has said if we get three people to read our poems we are doing well, a sobering observation and not one without foundation if we recall some of the gushy references to Seamus Heaney’s work in the aftermath of his death.… Read the rest