Category Archives: Poetry Matters

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.

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.

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  • 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

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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.