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Monday, 20 August 2007

Overlooked poets

The Overlook Hotel, in The Shining, is a place where ghosts return to haunt failed writers. Too often, however, writers don't return, to haunt anyone.

By definition, to be an overlooked writer is to be one that isn't read "anymore" - sometimes, it is possible to imagine, by any eyes at all. So it is good to see Canada's Arc Poetry Magazine feature a group of eclectically-assembled "forgotten poets", from London-based Orwell-expert Paul Potts to Montreal's Avi Boxer (whose son is a good poet too).

The Globe and Mail has an article about the issue. Still, it seems rather ironic to devote just one issue to this subject, since almost all poets are, to a greater or lesser degree, overlooked. For instance, who reads Adrian Stokes now? People should.

Then again, I can rather ruefully think about how few copies my own collections sell - roughly a thousand or so apiece. They get reviewed but are rarely kept in-stock, or widely distributed, like most poetry books. Given my own wayward travels, and living in distant cities, I've seen my own name rise and fall (expatriates are not eligible for many prizes in either their home or host countries) already - and despite the fact this blog and a few other things I've done faintly keep my name aflicker in a few heads, by and large, I'm already, by the lofty standards of the in-crowd, overlooked. What to do?

Avoid snowbound hotels and keep writing.
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