Ruth Padel at the Chester Literature Festival
Ruth Padel's talk was about poetry in general. I am not a poet though I sometimes write the odd piece which I think might be a poem. The poems I like the best are those that rhyme in a very subtle way so they have their own indefinable music - something you know is there but can't really say how.
The musicality of poetry was just one of the themes that Ruth Padel discussed, she also discussed the genesis of poetry, the importance of metaphor, how some poetry is thought to be 'difficult' and how to interpret this as a reader. She said that 'difficult' poems are not a recent phenomenon but have existed for a long time and are good because they slow the reader down and make them think about what they were reading.
Poetry, she said, is often generated by oppression and provides not just a window into the world but also a window into yourself (I much liked that idea). She also said it was important to see things in a different way. That, I guess, is true of all good writing - to see things differently, to see what some Russian theorists once called the 'fabulist'. In fact seeing things differently is important for all forms of creativity, not just poetry or writing. It is important in science, engineering and even government. Only by seeing things differently can we evolve and change.
I bought Ruth Padel's earlier book 52 Ways of Looking at the Poem for Hodmandod Senior...
Interestingly she said that when she was collecting poems for this earlier collection written around 2001 the poets (all contemporary) had all sorts of different occupations but when she compiled her most recent work (The Poem and the Journey) they were all lecturers in creative writing course in colleges. She said that she thought this might change the sort of poetry being written in the UK and make it closer to the poetry of America.