Poetry Night doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes it does happen. Winter is on the horizon, deadlines are clamouring, the wind wand sculpture on the waterfront keeps gyrating suggestively, the future keeps leering at us from its speeding vehicle. One thing to do under these circumstances is read some poems and listen to other people reading poems. A man with some opinions called Karl du Fresne recently quoted that famous line by Auden: ‘Poetry makes nothing happen’, but du Fresne didn’t quote the next lines, in which poetry:
flows on south From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs, Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives, A way of happening, a mouth.
He forgot to mention that it flows, it survives. That it’s a way of happening. It’s a mouth, Karl, a mouth.
I think also that du Fresne forgot that in the wider context of the poem, ‘nothing’ is a value in itself (Auden wrote those lines in a poem, after all, and to eulogize Yeats). I think he (and everyone) should read this great essay about isolation, communion, and poetry, by A. F. Moritz. I like these lines from the essay very much:
When we turn isolation into solitude by being creative and seeking ways to make this the basis of social life, we are poets.
The next Poetry Night will be on Sunday 20 April at 8pm on Twitter. If you’d like to record a poem or listen in, see here. Please note that the request to join me in an effort to get celebrities to read poems still stands.
Let’s make nothing happen, together.