Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Poetry and journalism

A blog post on the whole Paxman poetry kerfuffle, by a certain London-based poet, claims that most journalists despise, fear or dislike poetry, because poetry is the best-written, most compressed form of language, and better than journalism.

Well, I'll leave aside whether the latter is true for the moment, although it strikes me that good poetry and good journalism often have the same virtues of concision and compression that he talks about. I could certainly find plenty of journalism that's vastly better writing than some poetry, so it seems a rather hollow assertion.

The first claim strikes me as nonsense (though of course, it may be true of the journalists of this particular blogger's acquaintance). I can't say that, in 22 years of working in newspapers and magazines, I've ever noticed any great difference between the proportion of poetry-lovers among us hacks and the population as a whole. Some journalists like it, some don't.

Some write it. When I worked in Cardiff years ago, one of the sports writers at the Western Mail (I worked on different papers in the same office) was a chap called Alun Rees. I knew at the time that he was a poet, with a political edge, but he'd rather slipped my mind until a few weeks back, when I bought an anthology of Welsh poets published by Parthian Books (forget the title just now, and can't find it online). Alun Rees is among the names I was pleased to discover or rediscover through it - it's an excellent book.

Come to think of it, the anthology's editor, Meic Stephens, was a journo at the Western Mail, too. It's almost like they're ordinary people, too, isn't it?

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