George Herbert's meat-tasting face
Welcome to 'Our readers write', where we throw out a question related to poetry and ask readers to jump up and catch it. Got a question you'd like answered? Drop it in the comments section for use in the near future.
We asked New Poetries VI contributors to fill in the blanks:If ________ were alive today, he/she'd be outraged/entertained by _________.
Adam Crothers: If George Herbert were alive today, he'd be outraged by the suggestion that in order to innovate properly he should abandon, not redouble, his pursuit of metre and rhyme.
Nyla Matuk: I would introduce William Carlos Williams to the artist Tracey Emin’s installation, “My Bed.” He might appreciate it as a thing-in-itself.
Lesley Saunders: If Sappho were alive today, she'd be entertained (and probably delighted) by how much her poetry is still being read and enjoyed, especially considering how little of it survives. According to the Daily Telegraph (January 2014), a newly-discovered fragment of her poetry was 'even more exciting than a new album by David Bowie'. And you can even listen to a reconstruction of how the only complete extant poem of hers sounded.
David Troupes: If Emily Dickinson were alive today, she'd be all about anonymous blogging.
Rebecca Watts: If Wordsworth were alive today, he'd be outraged by how out of tune we are with reality. In a well-known sonnet he laments the widespread inattentiveness to Nature (his capital) among a recently industrialised populace fixated on the 'worldly' actions of 'getting and spending'. Ironically, what he called 'nature' we might call 'the world', which today (at least in those parts lucky enough to be free from attention-demanding natural disasters) is generally ignored in favour of a virtual realm, where screens, headphones and social media platforms deliver on demand the proxy sensory and emotional experiences that so convincingly resemble meaningful interactions. While I don't believe collective human experience would be improved by us all spending our days rambling in the Lake District, exclaiming whenever we happened upon a nice flower, might there be some fruitful middle ground between Wordsworth's privileged position and iPhone-induced oblivion? No doubt if Philip Larkin were alive today he'd offer up some sensible suggestions.