Follow Harriet on Twitter
Last weekend, walking along this beach, I wondered about all the bad poems and paintings this landscape has inspired. It’s the Suffolk coast between Walberswick and Dunwich (a dangerously “poetic” place because most of it fell into the sea)*.
I once sat on a judging panel for a poetry prize when, exhausted by how much was out there, we began to discuss giving a different kind of award. It would be for not writing (or at least publishing) any poems for a specified period. In European agricultural policy, where farmers have been paid to leave land uncultivated so that it can recover, this is called set aside.
Setting aside the who … how about the what? Which words, phrases, devices, angles, subjects, etc., would you pay good money not to see in a poem again?
I’d start with decorative taxonomies – those lists, in particular of artist’s colours and birds. No more alizarin, no more godwits.
And any form of epiphany other than the manifestation of Christ to the Magi, also known as January 6th.
And anything liminal, lambent or ludic.
*That is not Dunwich on the horizon. It is a nuclear power station and will have inspired bad poems all of its own.