On this blog I used to regularly review films about poets, or with a poetry content to them. This stopped, mainly because I canceled my LoveFilm subscription. However, a new season of films at the Edinburgh Filmhouse, in conjunction with the Scottish Poetry Library called Poetry in Motion has been keeping me feeling satisfied this month.
Last night I watched Bright Star. Bright Star follows Fanny Brawne, the finance of John Keats, as she meets him and they fall in love, ending with Keats death at the age of 25. The film is excellently directed by Jane Campion who brings a great amount of elegance and grace to the film. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
However one of the things that struck me was Fannies’ early admission to Keats that she found poetry difficult. The idea that poetry is difficult is always cast as a very modern one. We are told that poetry is difficult because people now receive information in different ways, poetry is difficult because it is not taught well, poetry is difficult because contemporary poets write abstrusly. However I have come to believe none of these. I think they are all an excuse.
On the list of “why (modern) poetry is difficult” no one appears to be able to actually pinpoint the difficulty as coming from within themselves, rather education, poets and modern technology are blamed. I find maths quite difficult, yes, I had maths teachers who scared me stiff, yes, I am dyslexic. At the end of the day though one of the reasons why maths is difficult for me is that I have not applied myself to it. I do not spend my evenings reading mathematics books, I don’t blog about maths, I don’t watch films about maths and I don’t go to maths classes, or spend my time seeking out other people to talk about maths with. If I genuinely wanted to improve my mathematical ability, I could, it would never be at a Nobel Prize level, but it could be much better than it is.
Therefore I posit that when people say poetry is difficult, what they are actually saying, is I’ve never found a poet or poem that has interested me enough to find out more. And that, is not necessarily poetry’s fault. So perhaps it might be worth poetry’s while to leave behind its navel gazing and hand wringing about its popularity, and just get on with writing some excellent work.