Fifty-One Questions For All Readers And Writers Of Poetry

The following questions have escaped the Creative Writing courses which gave them life then left them lying uselessly on the floor, and each one now urgently demands to be answered by everyone everywhere who claims any interest in poetry whatsoever, in no more than five hundred words and no fewer than fifty. Lives depend on this, along with your share of £15.26 prize money. Email answers to

  1. Why do we ask what poetry ‘is’?
  2. Is poetry supposed to help?
  3. Who is poetry for?
  4. What happens to the language of the past?
  5. Is poetry lost?
  6. Does it hurt you to write poetry? If not, why not?
  7. Are you willing to be hurt by the poetry of others? If not, why not?
  8. Can poetry reach outside ideology?
  9. What has poetry in common with archaeology?
  10. What do you know about language and memory?
  11. Can you love a poem that says what you don’t want to hear?
  12. Could you write a poem that says what you would prefer not to say?
  13. Have your (favourite) poems arrived, or are they still on their way?
  14. Is performance about the poem or the poet?
  15. What have your face and name to do with your poem?
  16. When you create something new, what are you doing?
  17. Is the author dead or living?
  18. Can poetry be popular while saying something unpopular?
  19. What relationship do you have with your poetic mistakes?
  20. Do poems change colour in certain lights?
  21. To what extent, precisely, is any poem a woman’s or a man’s?
  22. Is a poet a teacher? If so, by what right?
  23. Is the writer to blame, or the reader?
  24. What happens in your brain when a line scans? Or fails to?
  25. What if poetry is just veneer?
  26. Are you having a conversation when you read or write poetry? If so, with whom?
  27. How privileged is poetry?
  28. Who are poetry’s dependents?
  29. What is poetry’s day job?
  30. Do you fantasise about winning competitions? If so, why? If not, why not?
  31. Does publication terrify you? If so, why? If not, why not?
  32. Is there an argument against metaphor?
  33. How important is a dance?
  34. How liberal is a question?
  35. When is your audience?
  36. What is past poetry, or past a poem?
  37. What are all the arguments in favour of rhyme?
  38. Who could a poem not exist without?
  39. What is the poem you are really writing, time after time?
  40. What do you make of the poem which hangs between the poem and its translation?
  41. How do you speed-read a form that is impossible to skim?
  42. How important is it that a poem has bounce?
  43. Can poetry slow the spin?
  44. How does your (favourite) poetry fit in with poetry trends?
  45. Where does a poem leave you?
  46. How far is a poem a false friend?
  47. Where does your poetic doubt begin, and where does it end?
  48. What else does a poem mean?
  49. Is a poem letting your guard down or building a wall?
  50. What is the difference between a poem and a question?
  51. Do you care, poetry lover, about any of this, at all?

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