Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Value Archetype

The buddhist poet Maitreybandhu has written a wonderful essay in the second issue of the poetry journal Poem titled The Value Archetype. It begins with a question: What is poetry for? And continues: Of course, the answer is: nothing—poetry is not for anything. Poetry has no instrumental purpose and therefore no price or function. He continues: I want to argue that poetry is for the discovery, creation and preservation of human value. By value I mean something that is valuable in and of itself and not as a means to an end. So kindness is a value. Money is not a value: its so-called value is dependant on what we do with it. Poetry is a value. All of the important values in human life are not for anything—they are ends in themselves.

The rest of the essay is devoted to relating the three jewels of Buddhism to poetry, poetic practice, and the community of poets. I am not a buddhist, but what he says resonates with how I think and feel about poetry.

Submissions Opportunity

The Poetry Of Shropshire

Offa’s Press is publishing an anthology of the poetry of Shropshire, edited by Simon Fletcher and Jeff Phelps, in October 2013. We intend to include heritage material by A.E.Housman, Wilfred Owen and Mary Webb plus other well-known ‘Shropshire poems’ as well as a strong selection of contemporary voices from Shropshire or using Shropshire as a subject.

To support this anthology we shall be running writing workshops on ‘the poetry of place’ at Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Oswestry libraries in the coming months: July 6th, Bridgnorth library, 2-4pm; August 3rd, Oswestry Library, 11am-1pm. Tickets for all workshops cost £7/£5.

Poets interested in submitting work should send up to 4 poems (max 50 lines each) including extracts from longer poems (max 50 lines also) plus a brief biographical note (max 40 words) to Offa’s Press, 2, Ferndale, Pant, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 9QD between June 1st and August 31st. Submissions outside this window will not be considered.

Poets might like to consider the following topics: landscape, history, geology, flora, fauna, local history, characters, childhood memories, folklore, legends, sacred places, rivers and so forth.

Please include an SAE if you want your work returned. We are unable to enter into any correspondence and the editors’ word is final. If you haven’t heard anything from us by the end of September you can assume your submission has been unsuccessful.

Please watch out for the launch events in October/ November. There will be no fees but all successful contributors will be sent a free copy of the anthology and invited to one or other of the launch events. Copyright remains, of course, with contributors.

Any queries please email:

Oblique Strategies

I’ve got this box of cards called Oblique Strategies assembled by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, neither of whom are poets, though both are creatives. Here are five that I’ve selected at random. I use them to break  through this or that brick wall, and sometimes find a way over it.

[list style=”orb” color=”blue”]

  • Be less critical more often
  • Is there something missing?
  • Trust in the you of now
  • Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them



How to workshop a poem

First submit a poem as a blog post in the workshop category for the current month and year. Any member can then add a comment, which when approved will appear below the poem. There is no limit on the number of comments that can be made. The author of the poem can respond to any of the comments.

Have a look at the WordPress documentation about posting messages here. You should remember to choose the correct category for your post. Don’t be scared of using the site – anything you do has to be approved before it’s made public. The only way to learn is by jumping in with both feet and learning to swim.

When you have published your entry you can click on the link at the top right of the Edit Post page where it says Notify Users about this Post. This will bring up a page where you can send an email to everyone. The easiest way to specify the recipients is to click on administrator and author rather than select all users individually (unless of course you only want to send it to a few people).

The poet’s job

I thought I’d share this with you. Keith Sagar, a Ted Hughes critic and writer, wrote the following:

“The most important role for the poet is to challenge the false myths we all live by and offer true myths which involve the inward journey and the painful acquisition of self-knowledge, which illuminate and purge the dark interior, and which help us to discover a proper knowledge of the sacred wholeness of Nature, and a proper alignment of our behaviour within her laws.”

(The Laughter of Foxes, A Study of Ted Hughes, Keith Sagar, Liverpool University Press 2006, p3)

No doubt you each have something similar that is important to you. Why not share yours here.