Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Tuesday Poem - a lament

Dear Tuesday Poem - I'm sorry. Poetry has been ground down under life's jackboot heels this week. My livelihood - and that of many people I know - is under assault on both fronts. It's more than just personal, however. It's about our society, our culture and our civilisation. Because that's what you should be talking about when you talk about education and the Arts - culture and civilisation.

Post-secondary education in Australia has become a business, with providers worried about nominal student hours and how to streamline courses so that as little teaching is done as possible for the maximum government funding. This replaces any idea of excellence in education. Naturally the Arts have no place in this business model.

On the writing front as we all know, the book industry from publishing to selling, is in the doldrums. Doldrums is a comic sounding word, capable of cheering up a grumpy, tired toddler if said with appropriate facial expressions. Unfortunately, there's little comedy happening and I'm not a toddler, but a grown woman with  talents and years of working experience which are fast becoming at best, severely under-paid, and, at worst, redundant.

Normally I'm more optimistic than this. But today, poetry feels like a luxury I can't afford and anyway, the poem I want to write has already been written by writer and educator, Grace Paley. Her view on education was that,  'children—by writing, by putting down words, by reading, by beginning to love literature, by the inventiveness of listening to one another—could begin to understand the world better and to make a better world for themselves.'

Apparently that's now an old-fashioned view.

Dear Grace Paley. I have always loved your astringency and the sharp observations you made of our crowded, chaotic, struggling lives.

With unreportable sadness


Helen Lowe said...

Catherine, Poetry is never a luxury we cannot afford, but I "hear" you in terms of what you are saying and enjoyed the Paley link.

Mary McCallum said...

a moving post - thank you Catherine - and terribly sad - Paley's poem is terrific

simmone said...

Hey Catherine,
we met a long time ago on a (lowther?) writers camp in daylesford. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog and how I don't read enough poetry but am always gets something from yours and the poems you present. I can't bake pies but I am thinking of taking up a trade and letting writing be the thing that keeps me up at night for reasons other than financial anxiety.

Cattyrox said...

Glad you enjoyed the link, Helen. Thanks for the support Mary - it's so lovely to be part of the Tuesday Poem poets! Simmone - I know exactly what you mean by taking up a trade! I'm thinking of swim teaching myself. My daughter does it, and with the few exceptions, she loves the little kids and finds them eager to learn, sweet and funny. On their part they, mostly, adore her. Sounds like cooking pie to me!

Jo said...

Catherine - I've been away from the net awhile, and haven't caught up on the blogs I follow till now - I commiserate with your view that publishing is in the doldrums. I think so too, and have trouble getting motivated to write another novel.

I always admire poets, they always seem to 'do it anyway, even if it doesn't pay' (as you once quoted from the wonderful GW). But that's what people think about novelists, too. And maybe we do ... I'm becoming more interested in subsistence living, as I hate to work at regular jobs. But I see since now you've found heart to put up more poems ...