Sunday, July 15, 2018

'Bella' on 'Poems & Pictures' website

I was contacted a few weeks ago to contribute some poems to the Mary Evans Picture Library. This project has been one of the most long-standing picture archive galleries in the UK, operating since the 1960s and one that far predates iStock Photo and Alamy and so on. As such they have a fabulous and unique collection of images.

I will have four poems appear over the coming months, but the first is an old poem written in the voice of the painter Marc Chagall in old age, which appeared in my first collection In the Library of Lost Objects (2011). This poem is, in fact, one of my earliest pieces, written when I was 25. It somewhat amazes my present self to realise I wrote it at that age as it is almost half a lifetime ago. That said, I still like it very much.

In the end, poetry is about the act of sympathetic engagement but we live in a world where writers are increasingly being accused of the appropriation of other people's experience. I would contend that it is actually our core duty (perhaps even talent) to try to understand, and write, from different perspectives and refuse to be stymied by such (glib) criteria. I am clearly writing beyond my 'experience' here but that's the challenge. If such a poem succeeds or rings true as being authentic that is the only measure. If it fails it will be forgotten.

Anyway, I hope this one does achieve the act of sympathetic resonance with the subject. 'Poetry & Pictures' are doing a great job in marrying word and image and my thanks to them for inviting me to contribute to this intriguing project. So, here's my first offering then on their site.

Marc Chagall, circa 1913
© Mary Evans Picture Library