To compare innovative poetry to prog rock is, perhaps, rather cheeky, and there's not that much in common really, apart from the fact that they both started in the late '60's. Prog bands that "made it" (Yes, Genesis & Pink Floyd basically) ended up as bloated shadows of their former selves and were not all that experimental really, except in their early days.
But the urge to step away from the norm, to explore new territories, new sound or wordscapes, is the continuity between all these movements. And I don't see much of it happening at the moment, except in isolated pockets. Tony Trehy's innovative Text Festival, groupings such as Oppened and The Other Room, aside, there's the constant need to try and sell books. And people do like to be able to hum the tune...
But there's always a tension between writer & audience. The writer wants to reach for some kind of (even if only temporary, provisional and fractured) vision of the world, the reader wants something to read. That challenges - if they're in the mood for it - but is approachable. But not too approachable - we want to feel that we are special for being able to understand this. Prog fans saw themselves as a breed apart - largely male, geeky and grammar school. Do readers of innovative writing feel the same way?
How much do writers consider their audience?
I've just read a poem that is very approachable - an elegy for Brian Glancy. A very traditional elegy in many ways. Not at all experimental. Bit like Pete Sinfield writing for Bucks Fizz?
The winner of the 7th Fortnight Prize is....
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