The plan had been to present a poem, followed by a couple of paragraphs of thoughts. Yes, I confess that I’m an English teacher, but the point of the blog was to respond as a reader, as someone who read this stuff for fun, rather than offering the sort of autopsy that has some students head-butting their desks in frustration.
Things seemed to be going well. I was enjoying writing, but then I emailed the Poetry Archive asking for them to link to the blog. Although they wished me well, they said that they wouldn’t link to a site that used copyrighted material without permission. Now, I’d thought about this from the outset, and had only copied poems from sample materials made available online by publishers. I posted ISBN numbers beside book titles too, but that’s not the point, is it? Copyright is copyright, and I should have done more to link to publishers’ websites, and poets’ home pages.
So how do you present contemporary poetry to sixth formers? They won’t find much in most school libraries (for shame). Once Armitage and a handful of other names have been excluded, there’s little on offer in provincial bookshops either. Providing a link to a poem buried deep inside a publisher’s pdf hardly seems the way forward. You need the poem on the page to refer to.
So, I’m going to plough on without poems for now, and will work harder to promote publishers and poets. If and when I start reprinting material, rest assured it will be with permission.