ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Punk and my writing

The first word that sprang to mind as I was thinking about this piece was nostalgia: not the soft focus hankering for things or days past, but a reminder of where I came from, of formative influence. I can no more forget the importance of punk in my personal and artistic development than I can my ethnic cultural heritage. 

My poetry is rooted in the rhythms and language of Anglo-Welsh, not in a conscious or contrived manner, it's just how I write and what seems most natural to me. These are the patterns of language I learnt as a child. I cannot, and have no desire to, unlearn them.

So I am saddened by people who want to expunge their punk past. Why? It was the most exciting thing to happen to British culture in the Twentieth Century and I say that not just because I was peripherally there. Why would you want to forget it?

Punk informs my writing. I need and ask no permission to write whatever I want: whatever topic, in whatever style, using whatever language I choose. I can swear and be 'offensive' and 'outrageous' if I like, whatever these terms mean, without self-chastisement. I am not using naughty words or excusing my language, subject matter or approach to myself or anyone else. I can break all the rules of poetry if I want and still make work that is pleasing. To do this I have exorcised my internal critic. J'etais toujours Charlie.

And I don't really care what the reader thinks. I am not writing for any particular audience. Poetry by poll or committee can never produce anything of merit. No, I write to please myself and I am gratified that my work touches other people or that I hear the sigh of recognition or a peal of laughter from the crowd at a reading. Even if I was in an audience of one: me, alone, that's all that matters. I am doing it by and for myself. And that's a punk thing.

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