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Pete Atkin >> Words >> Clive James "Letter to a Young Poet"
(Message started by: Kevin Cryan on Today at 15:33)

Title: Clive James "Letter to a Young Poet"
Post by Kevin Cryan on Today at 15:33
the
Scores

A Journal of Poetry and Prose

Issue One, Autumn 2016

Foreword- Issue One by Don Paterson (http://thescores.org.uk/foreword-issue-one//)

Quote:
...
The Scores does not champion any particular school of poetry, and we hope that our pages will reflect poetry’s broad church. As we’re a School, our mission also includes providing resources that will make the whole business of writing poetry feel a bit less lonely, and to that end we’ve begun a series called – with blinding originality – Letter to a Young Poet. With his usual generosity, our friend Clive James has contributed the first Letter, and we intend that the series will grow to become a valuable library of advice from notable practitioners of our (sometimes) tortured art..



Letter to a Young Poet (http://thescores.org.uk/clive-james/)
Clive James

Quote:
First of all, give up if you can. Nobody who isn’t neurotically driven should be in the game, because the chances of failure are too high, and the disappointments are too cruel. So we can safely assume that you are writing poetry because you must, and not just because you think it a more rewarding activity than stacking shelves. The latter assumption is statistically wrong anyway: the average stacked shelf is not only more useful to society than the average poem, it is actually superior as a work of art.

Thus committed by a burning, Miltonic compulsion to your lifetime’s destiny, you will have already noticed that your work attracts more blame than praise, and more indifference than either. Train yourself to care less about the praise. You should work your new poem to perfection not because it will please more people that way – it might please fewer – but because in its finished state it will prove itself an independent artefact invulnerable even to your own doubts. If the poem has its own confidence, the day will come when you can look back on it and wonder how you did it. Usually that day, if it comes at all, comes soon; but it seldom comes immediately, so keep back anything you write until you are sure that it is really finished. Through this point runs the dividing line between the amateur and the professional. If the initial formative impulse is strong enough, there is a tendency to overlook soft spots and decide prematurely that the thing is done. Don’t trust your enthusiasm until it dies down.

...


read on (http://thescores.org.uk/clive-james/)

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: Clive James "Letter to a Young Poet"
Post by phil_smith on 12.01.17 at 00:40
Only a combination of this article and the wonders [sometimes] of the internet could have introduced me to a hitherto unknown [to me] poem by Robert Lowell, and drawn me to links with Mellieha, Malta, where I recently enjoyed a most pleasurable week. "O my America, my Newfoundland".....said he, referring to unexpected associations. Should I appear too obscure, the specific link is between "Our Lady of Walsingham" and a Maltese church. I have no idea as to how Lowell had knowledge of Walsingham [the place, that is].

Title: Re: Clive James "Letter to a Young Poet"
Post by Kevin Cryan on 12.01.17 at 07:56

on 01/12/17 at 00:40:52, phil_smith wrote :
..... I have no idea as to how Lowell had knowledge of Walsingham [the place, that is].


He probably didn't.


He probably got what knowledge he appears to have through his reading of E.I.Watkin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._I._Watkin) work. In an introductory note to Lord Weary’s Castle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Weary's_Castle) Lowell acknowledged that the Our Lady of Walsingham section was “an adaptation of several paragraphs” from Watkin.

He was in all probability familiar with large sections of  Watkin’s Catholic Art and Culture (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catholic-Art-Culture-I-Watkin/dp/B0012UXG5S) even before it was published in 1942 because he had  worked as an editorial assistant Sheed and Ward, the books original publisher, around the time of publication.

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: Clive James "Letter to a Young Poet"
Post by phil_smith on 12.01.17 at 23:56
Thanks for that, Kevin!



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