Ben: Poetry remains something with which I have only the most fleeting of relationships. I own few collections (Auden, Bishop, Arnold) and have read even fewer. I think this is because I am guilty of venerating poetry, of positioning it in my personal cannon as the highest art form. Yet in doing so I have placed it out of reach, beyond my grasp; seeing it as Poetry – unified, oblique and obtuse. I hope this project can allow for a reeling in and unraveling. That it can allow me to see poetry (not Poetry) as the multifaceted, many faced thing that it is and no longer an impenetrable mass. I suppose I also hope for something more. For an attachment. For a deeper more loving relationship with poetry. Quite a lot then really!
Katherine: In a similar way to the way I respond to team sports, drama games, and modern Jazz, I’ve come to prefer the idea of poetry, to poetry itself. Like Ben, I also think this has something to do with considering poetry as something that somehow occupies a space above and beyond other art forms – somehow out of grasp for those readers who don’t possess an elusive key to unlocking its meaning. I wonder why this is, especially since as children we often respond to an energetic reading of poetry more enthusiastically and viscerally than anything else. I think, for me, it’s to do with the fact that, with poetry, there’s more of an onus on the reader’s approach and the reader’s imagination. I think (and tentatively suggest…) that with poetry, more can be left unsaid or ambiguously inferred than with other art forms. We almost have to take a risk every time we read a poem. I would like to develop a willingness and an instinctive courage to engage with poetry, however unwelcoming and elusive it can appear in form, and become comfortable with taking that risk on feeling stupid in order to gain a personal reaction and pleasure. In a silly way, that’s quite scary. So that’s why I’m happy to be starting this project – because, all that being said, when you do crack a poem, the result can be more rewarding, more memorable, and more profound, than almost anything else. 🙂