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Is Silence Better Than Poetry?

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
I don’t feel worthy to contribute to this blog because I haven’t written poetry for what must be coming on a couple of years. I’m busy. I’m too busy. I’m way too fucking busy! But that won’t wash with anyone taking the time to read this blog now will it?
You know as well as I do that your best work can be scribbled in eyeliner on the back of a bus ticket, or on a serviette between courses over dinner. Therefore, it’s not that I’m busy. If I’m honest, it’s because I feel so alienated from the society we live in that poetry has seemed so self-indulgent of late. I am in despair of the current cultural paradigm and simply don’t have the vocabulary to express just how fucking angry and frustrated I am. Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote, ‘What really matters is what we can only be silent about.’ I have to agree…
And then I get asked to write this blasted blog and it was inevitable that in doing so, I would have to face up to the fact THAT THE SILENCE IS KILLING ME!
It is killing me because I still agree with Ludwig – we can’t express true feelings through words – language is simply too limited. But as I thrash this around I also can’t help but also agree with Martin Luther King when he said, ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal.’ Yes language is limited, but silence is dangerous. After all, the limitations of language don’t seem to impede the consumer driven poetics currently at play. There doesn't seem to be a problem convincing the general populace to shop our way to happiness, or that the worth of a human being lies in their bank statement, or worse - the shape of their mammary glands! Think how much the advertising industry alone has influenced the ‘Because I’m worth it!’ culture in which we find ourselves ensconced. Because I’m worth it, I will spend money I haven’t got, on a mascara I don’t need that’s been smeared into the eyes of a defenseless animal, produced in a pollution puking petro-chemical plant by some poor unfortunate sod on slave wages, shipped half way across the globe in a carbon shitting vessel, sold in packaging that will take 400+ years to disintegrate after being sent halfway back across the globe to some foreign landfill – filled by some poor unfortunate sod on slave wages. And as silence is looking so last year, I’m going to say you and I have a responsibility as poets to pick-up our pens and write us out of this most despicable of shituations.
Is Silence Better Than Poetry?
Therefore, I’d like to use this opportunity as a call to arms. There’s no time left to rummage around in our souls. There’s no time left to look back in fondness, marvel at the quirkiness of life. Those poetries belong to another time. In these X-Factor saturated days of late Capitalism, writers of all descriptions have a job do to. We must pick up our pens and unite in re-writing the grand narratives of our collective imagination. Our poetries must serve to challenge the dominant discourses of consumer ideologies – ideologies that encourage selfishness and greed, and are ultimately killing our planet. We are poets and readers of poetry – we are not customers god damn it! We must not be silent about what really matters –we have to take language to the extremes of its outer-limits, pick-up our pens and give them hell!
If we’re not willing to do that, perhaps we do need to shut the fuck up otherwise we’re just contributing to the ever prevalent weapon of mass distraction?
I leave you with two quotes. The first by the great Salman Rushdie – who if nothing else, has refused to be silent no matter the consequences: ‘A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, to start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.’
The second quote is taken from a harbinger of consumer poetics, the Geordie voice over guy from Big Brother: ‘You decide!’
  Thanks for reading, Michelle Hayward. Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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