THE BLOG

What Is a Poet For?

03/03/2013 11:19 GMT | Updated 03/05/2013 10:12 BST

A poet has had various roles through time, as a storyteller mainly, passing on knowledge in memorable formats, and presenting new possibilities to the world in the safe environment of 'art'.

Privately, maybe a poet's role is reducible to giving voice to feelings that may not seem expressible in day to day living, or in repressive social or societal environments.

The extension beyond function becomes art and we can all argue for hours about the merits and pitfalls of art, whether we can or should define what it is or what it is for. Is it enough for language to dance and be beautiful, to entertain? Does it even need to make sense in the generally understood meaning of the word? Or should these elements be by-products of a medium that has teaching as it's aim?

What seems certain now, with everybody afforded nearly even footing on world reaching platforms, is that merely speaking or writing to an audience is no longer enough. We can all do that without publishers, without (much immediate) political intervention, and as we all try to drum up interest in our own light on the stage, the whole scene is becoming saturated, blanked out in a white noise of options.

The new poet, I believe, becomes more than ever before a listener and a watcher, a person able to tune in to what is really going on beneath the white noise, and form pockets of peace from it, still moments in which human beings can swim, however they wish to. Rather than being restricted by attempting to 'find the light' of publishing, or fame, or audience, the maze of source material spreads out before us, and the methods of forming that material into a 'poetry' grow just as fast.

I'm not saying the time has come to give up the world of type on paper, and concentrate solely on new forms of expression, but I am very much saying that formerly distinct worlds will no longer stay separated.

Poetry for me is now gloriously blurred with colours, images, musics, streaming video, satellites. It is time to give it a new name. It is no longer 'hard', it is not elitist, it is not rarefied or magical or the arena of a select few, it is a safe environment to play with anything you want, without boundaries or judgement.