Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nick Laird on poetry online

'I got an iPad last week and spent this morning exploring a few of the 718 applications returned when you search for "poetry" 

SHOWBIZ Blackadder
At Word World Lite you can make like Baldrick in Blackadder and try to create your own dictionary. Photograph: PA

The screen on my laptop only appears, like some wayward genie, if it's gently rubbed a certain way, and my red Nokia mobile's so antiquated that last week a teenage waitress picked it off the table and said: "Wow, cool, retro." When I receive a picture message I have to go to a computer and type in a code to see it. In an effort to upgrade, I got an iPad last week and, having finished Angry Birds, spent this morning exploring a few of the 718 applications returned when you search for "poetry".

Wattpad, a free site where people share their work, claims to have 1.5m stories. The poem "Hatred" (which has 26,386 reads, about 10 times as many copies as the usual TS Eliot prizewinner sells) begins

hatred feeling in my heart
it was you that cause this all
with that hatred stinking deep down in me
why does this happen so often
with that hatred in my heart
I am the one who evil inside
and you are the angel sent from heaven . . .

Like almost all the work I've found online, punctuation's forgone entirely, but at least it's free and, I'm assuming, adolescent, so let's give the kid a break. Still, a poet should spend longer writing a poem than the time it takes to read it, and a problem with the internet is it demands profusion: you have to post something or you might as well be off-line. That's how you get 100,000 books and nothing worth reading. A good poem takes time, years in some cases, and while immediacy is a virtue when it comes to social media, it's a curse when it comes to verse.

Read the full piece at The Guardian

No comments: