Sweeping all before it
As if to confirm my recent posts, The Guardian's poetry round up this Saturday featured a photo of Don Paterson and a statement from Sarah Crown that his collection Rain "swept all before it" this year. I find such triumphalist language of very limited value, especially as it plays into a marketing-branding-prize-giving perspective that has badly damaged the poetry world over the last decade. It is truly amazing to me to see all the Internet-based poetry initiatives of this decade - most which empowered thousands of poets - continuously ignored or downgraded in the mainstream media's summaries of the decade. Main reason: you can't buy and sell free poetry. Anyway, how did Rain sweep all before it this year? I think, rather, that 2009 was a richly varied year, with many books worth reading. A pity that critics in positions of authority and with wide public reach continue to try to establish a star system for British poets reminiscent of the BBC's internal document, calling Michael Palin of limited appeal. Such instrumental ranking has little or nothing to do with poetry itself.