When you hear the brilliant works of the great artists of the past; Wordsworth, Beethoven; do you know then philistines saw them as avant garde idiots? Those boorish fools wouldn’t put the effort into listening. They never sought the reward behind the originality. And today, we too have those who condemn ‘the new’, who wish artists to repeat the past, who forget their brethren philistines of then hated these supposèdly ‘safe’ works.
We, in our time, we benefit from our past’s enlightened listeners, who heard their avant garde, and selected. Now it is our turn, our duty to hear our new works, to seek the diamond in the charcoal. Almost all to hear will fail, imitate, misguide, but you might, as I did, find the first performance of Steve Reich’s “Different Trains”, or you might hear the poem to rescue English poetry from its bog, recognise it, and encourage the poet to shout it to the world.
But if you don’t try, if you stand on the outside and piss in, you contribute nothing to now, to the future, to the art. That is the behaviour of a parasite.
And we who write, we poets, we must push, push for the way forward. We all, we must find that poem, that form, that’ll mend the poetry, that will have us be told to shout it to the world.
And the encouragers will almost certainly be wrong. We’ll never know how history finds us, only that we try. Our efforts may die with us, before us, they might survive the fifty years of staid, for some future child, born beyond the death of live now generations, to rediscover, to excite, to enthuse, to know the context, to bring our work to new life. We can never know. We must try.