Sunday, November 05, 2006

Poetry in motion

Just writing an essay on whether "poetry of the past" is relevant to today's children.
I begin to detest that word "relevant". It's like the academic (and also political) version of "whatever".
If a poem/book/painting/welfare centre/educational program/cultural argument/concern is not relevant in the narrowest possible terms to educational/political/funding/cultural authorities, you get the big "whatever". The newspapers will run a campaign to ask why on earth that artwork or youth refuge cost so much. The Prime Minister will raise an eyebrow on early morning TV. An inquiry will be called.
Is history relevant? Is literature relevant? Is art/youth/age/gender/culture relevant?
Air, water, wildlife? People?
Do we really need them, after all?
Prove it.

The aim of poetry is for me simply to keep the child from its television set and the old man from his pub.
~ Philip Larkin, proving relevance

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